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St. Vincent spared again as Hurricane Emily abates

St. Vincent spared again as Hurricane Emily  abates


Tropical Storm Emily sent Vincentians scurrying this week in a dry run for what could be the real thing if a hurricane eventually hits. This, after all, has been predicted to be a busier than usual season.

And, as if preparing for battle Vincentians obeyed the command to prepare for the storm’s expected onslaught. {{more}}

Emily seemed imminent Wednesday as the sky turned darker and drops of light rain began to fall late morning. This sent many rushing to shop and supermarkets to stock up on emergency supplies. Flashlights were being sold in a brisk trade in the city at knockdown prices, complete with batteries. There was a mad rush at gas stations as motorists filled up their automobiles. Many establishments boarded up their show windows as the nation prepared.

Tuesday, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves had called a meeting of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) at the brand new headquarters at Old Montrose to brief the nation.

The headquarters have not yet been officially opened and it was evident that all was not totally ready in the building. Technicians were still busy running wires to facilitate communication. However, organizationally, NEMO was not lagging.

National Disaster Preparedness Coordinator Howie Prince in a supporting role to meet with representatives from the National Emergency Advisory Committee and their sub-committees accompanied the Prime Minister. That meeting lasted close to two hours before the Prime Minister’s media briefing and address to the nation began.

At the briefing, which went live on all radio stations, the Prime Minister outlined the status of the weather conditions and urged the population to do all in within their power to prepare themselves.

“We have to put this country on a war footing, so we are prepared as much as possible. It is our time to activate the plans that we have been making so start packing, collect food. Ensure that the elderly and babies are safe, don’t waste time putting things together.”

The Prime Minister was at pains to advise the population not to be fooled by the calm and the good weather, which existed Tuesday afternoon.

But by mid morning Wednesday, the National Disaster Preparedness Coordinator was reporting that flashfloods had washed away a four year old child in Bequia as that island began to feel the effects of Tropical Storm Emily which was moving westwards on a rare southern path.

Prince urged persons living in low-lying areas to be on the alert for flash floods as the storm was expected to deposit near 6 inches of rainfall. Weather forcasters had warned that rainfall could reach 12 inches in the mountains. Prince therefore advised caution.

Up to press time the storm had seemed to be weakening and moving toward the south with storm warnings being issued for Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and Venezuela.

The last major storm to hit St. Vincent and the Grenadines was Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. That, like this storm, went south, much to the relief of Vincentians.

Grenada though, was not so fortunate and is today still recovering from the massive hit which destroyed about 80 percent of their housing and agriculture.