The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) has admitted that it needs to make improvements to its response to natural disasters following the aftermath of Tropical Storm Bret.
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Don’t panic, be prepared
Tobagonians and travellers alike are already experiencing challenges on the sea bridge between Trinidad and Tobago with slow “fast” ferries, cargo and barge vessels. To compound Tobagonians’ woes, an inclement weather pattern with the potential to wreak further economic hardship and havoc on the island is threatening. This will also impact upon the current stores of foods and emergency building supply level in Tobago and the ability of the private sector to have available supplies for citizens to prepare themselves prior to an event such as a hurricane.
Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) director Allan Stewart yesterday urged citizens, especially in Tobago, not to panic but to prepare just in case a tropical disturbance has the potential to become a tropical cyclone and make landfall in Tobago within several days.
The T&T Meteorological Service issued a bulletin yesterday at 8 am that a broad area of disturbed weather was located approximately 2,560 km east-southeast of T&T. It said over the last 24 hours, this area of disturbed weather had become better organized. There was a medium chance (40 per cent) of tropical cyclone development over the next 24 to 48 hours and a high chance (70 per cent) over the next three to four days.
At this time, this was an area of disturbed weather for which the T&T Meteorological Service (TTMS) will be investigating and monitoring, paying particular attention to the likelihood of tropical cyclone development.
All interests in T&T were asked to monitor the progress of this system and pay close attention to information being issued by the TTMS by visiting its website at www.metoffice.gov.tt, downloading its mobile app (search: TT Met Office) and following it on Twitter and Facebook.
The TTMS was reminding citizens that they were in the hurricane season and adequate preparation was advised.
The MET office said it wished to underscore that at this time T&T was not under any tropical cyclone watch or warning.
The TTMS will be closely monitoring this system as it moves across the Tropical Atlantic Ocean and will issue another bulletin within 24 hours.
Speaking to the Sunday Guardian on Friday, Stewart said “Based on the prediction and projectory course of the system we are actually in the cone of probability. To the general public we are asking that there’s no need for panic at this stage; it’s just a tropical disturbance with a high 50 per cent chance of becoming a cyclonic event.
“The sectors that are charged with the responsibility of managing such an occurrence if it turns out to be that, we’re actively looking at our checklist at this time making sure that the necessary components are in place, for example I’m liaising with my counterparts at the ODPM (Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management, T&T MET office and other first responders.”
He called on citizens to do be prepared as it was the hurricane season, to stay close to their radios, charge cellphones, store batteries, water, canned foods, medicine and to download TEMA’s Virtual Vision app.
Meanwhile, municipal corporations in south and central Trinidad are on high alert as they brace for bad weather in the next few days, which could likely result in flooding, landslides and high winds.
(reporting by SASCHA WILSON)