On Saturday October 30th, 2010 at approximately 2 am, Tropical Storm Tomas began severely affecting the island of Barbados, with maximum sustained winds of near 70 miles per hour. Although it affected Barbados as a Tropical Storm and not a hurricane (it later developed into a Category One hurricane after the center of the storm passed 20 miles south of Barbados), the damage caused by the event was widespread. As we’re nearing the halfway through the Hurricane Season, we take a look back, as it happened.
Barbados was hastily placed under a Tropical Storm Warning on Friday October 29th, with little to no notice, as lamented by members of the public. This advisory caused Barbadians to hasten to supermarkets and gas stations to make last minute preparations due to the short notice. Judy Thomas, Director of Department of Emergency Management (DEM) noted “We didn’t have the advisories, the watches, the warning. We had almost a straight tropical warning.” At 10 p.m., the center of Tropical Storm Tomas was located near latitude 12.2 north, longitude 58.4 west of the island. This resulted in the continued deterioration of the weather conditions, and subsequently caused a national shut down at 12: 30 am, by which all persons were to be safely tucked into their homes, or at the shelters across the island. The regional airline LIAT, as well as American Airlines cancelled flights into and out of the island. As conditions worsened during the wee hours of Saturday morning, the Tropical Storm warning previously issued, was upgraded to a Hurricane Warning.
Tropical Storm Tomas caused widespread damage across the island. In addition to the gusty winds, the storm carried more than 10 inches of rains and a strong surge that rose water levels to as much as 1 to 3 feet above normal tide levels. Roofs were lost and power lines and trees had fallen. As a result, there was widespread power outage, with at least 75 to 80% of all electricity service disrupted, also resulting in reduced water supplies in many areas. Some houses were also totally dismantled by the hurricane and fallen trees made some roads impassable. Reports also indicated that several cars had been crushed by fallen utility poles and trees. The parishes that were most affected by Tomas were St. John, St Andrew, St. Michael, St. Joseph and St. George. There was also agricultural damage, as the poultry industry took a hit.
As afternoon approached, conditions started to improve. This led to a downgrade of the Hurricane Warning to a Tropical Storm Warning at 3pm, which was then discontinued around 9pm that same day. The response to the disaster was prompt, as the Barbados Red Cross Society (BRCS) was able to assist government with damage and assessments as well as road clearing, while a National Intervention Team, was put on standby. Approximately 90 major roads were cleared within the first 24 hours after Tomas passed. The BRCS was able distribute tarpaulins to households with roof loss or damage, as a stop gap measure until the roofs could be fixed. Additionally communities with training from the BRCS, were able to provide assistance as well. The damage cause by Tomas was estimated to be in the vicinity of 8.5 million US dollars. As a result of this damage, a Preliminary Emergency Appeal was issued on November 3rd 2010 for 611, 470 Swiss francs to support the national societies of Barbados, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to assist 1,550 families for 6 months.
On a day when Barbados experienced the most damage from a storm or hurricane in years, Barbadians were left, once again thanking God for another “great escape”. Despite the widespread damage to over 1500 homes, no casualties were reported across the island. There may be no credence to the saying that “God is a Bajan”, but certainly there is no disputing that the island of Barbados is very blessed.
© Photo 1&2 taken from Dailymail.co.uk
© Article of caribbeandreamsmagazine.com