Senior Multimedia Reporter
Heavy rains and fierce winds wreaked havoc in Gasparillo yesterday, damaging 11 homes, toppling towering trees, wrecking a vehicle inside a school and bringing down electrical and cable lines.
Last night, over 50 residents found themselves in a desperate search for alternative lodging after their homes were deemed unsafe due to the extensive damage inflicted by the unrelenting winds.
Described as a tornado by the residents, the powerful wind gusts began blowing through Surprise Avenue around 12.53 pm before moving onto Peeko Avenue and Rahaman Drive, leaving a trail of destruction.
Describing the harrowing ordeal, Maureen Nobbie, of Rahaman Drive, Happy Hill, said, “There was lightning and thunder, rain was falling hard. Then the galvanise started to shake and bang. Then it was rooted out by the wind and it started to fly. I got up and ran. I turn off the stove. I was so frightened and frantic, I started to call my children.”
Wendell Grant, of Bonne Aventure, said he too was terrified.
“I heard the loud wind and after that, it was just galvanise ripping up, and trees falling. I was frightened. It was the first time I ever experienced this kind of thing. It was hostile the way the wind blew. I was seeing a whirlwind, it was gathering all the galvanise in a circle.
“A neighbour’s dog kennel broke down, all the piping and plumbing mash up, and things were flying in the air. The two water tanks also burst,” he recalled.
Ramcharan Nanan, Grant’s neighbour, said he was shocked to see his neighbour’s roof flying in the air.
“I was too afraid to look out because things could hit you,” he said.
David Scarlet, whose entire home and possessions were destroyed, said he came home from work to see the devastation.
“The roof was completely torn off. The TV in the living room fell, the living room was flooded, and tree branches were all over the yard. My bathroom is soaked and the ceiling tiles are completely off,” he said.
Over at the Gasparillo Secondary School, huge trees had been shredded by the wind, leaving broken tree trunks on the ground.
President of the school’s Parent/Teacher Association Jocele Raymond said a teacher’s car was damaged.
In a video of the ordeal circulating on social media, terrified students could be heard screaming in fear while the relentless rain penetrated through the louvres. The powerful gusts of wind bore down on the towering trees, ripping their crowns apart and causing them to crash down.
Raymond said it was a miracle that nobody got hurt.
She said the rain lasted for just about 15 minutes.
Sham Ramcharan, of Peeko Trace, said he was too scared to look outside when the winds began rumbling past his house, tearing away tree branches and their roof.
Councillor Ravi Pooran Maharaj, who toured the areas yesterday, told Guardian Media 11 houses were left badly battered by the inclement weather.
“The Disaster Management Unit has been on the ground. They delivered mattresses, and T&TEC has been on the ground trying to restore the power,” Pooran said.
Late yesterday, officials from the Disaster Management Unit of the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo distributed mattresses, food and other supplies to over 50 residents. Several of them left their homes to stay with relatives, while others opted to stay.