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TEMA director Allan Stewart

Loyse Vincent and

Kalain Hosein

Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) director Allan Stewart says all the requisite agencies on the island have been activated and they are ready for Tropical Storm Gonzalo.

Stewart said based on the current trajectory of the storm, areas on the northeastern end of the island may be hardest hit if it makes landfall.

“It will pass to the north and therefore our far east villages can be impacted in one way or the other through excessive rainfall, there is a possibility that we will receive two inches of rainfall and that can pose a challenge,” Stewart said.

However, he said the Division of Infrastructure Quarries and the Environment has cleared the necessary waterways as much as possible “to avoid debris blocking water channels that may cause flooding in areas that may be inundated.” He said equipment has also been placed at strategic locations across the island to facilitate easy access and immediate action.

He said in the event they need to activate emergency shelters, considerations have been made for COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“We looked at things like shelters, we look at the activations and we know that based on the level of the threat there is a strong possibility that yes we will be activating the Emergency Operations Centre. Shelters will observe the necessary protocols which will be maintained with regard to how are we going to maintain standard operational procedures.”

He stressed the importance of persons being “actively involved and vigilant” as the weather pattern approaches

“Fisherfolk and those with marine interests, for the most part, have been securing their vessels, mooring them so that we can avoid damages in any way. And TEMA has been receiving several calls from persons asking for assistance with clearing branches from trees close to buildings.”

After battling with Saharan Dust on Thursday, Gonzalo maintained its strength in the Central Atlantic with persisting showers and thunderstorms near its center. As of Thursday evening, this tropical storm had sustained winds of 95 KM/H and gusts to 115 KM/H. This system is moving westward at 22 KM/H, generally accelerating westward to west-northwestward through the weekend.

On the present track, Gonzalo is forecast to move between Barbados and Tobago tomorrow afternoon as a strong tropical storm or a marginal Category 1 hurricane. With tropical storm conditions possible across Tobago from tomorrow morning, the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (TTMS) issued a tropical storm watch for Tobago and Grenada yesterday. Hurricane watches remained in effect for Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

According to the TTMS, periods of heavy to intense showers and/or thunderstorms are likely across Tobago. In addition, heavy/intense downpours can result in street/flash flooding. It said gusty winds in excess of 85 KM can be expected and the risk of landslides/landslips is very high in areas so prone, while sea conditions are also likely to become occasionally rough.

Based on the TTMS’ risk matrix and the yellow alert level for the tropical storm watch, although direct impacts are not anticipated across Trinidad, heavy showers and thunderstorms are forecast for tomorrow afternoon due to periphery impacts. This means street/flash flooding, gusty winds, landslides and agitated seas will also be possible across Trinidad.