Harvey threatens

storm predicted to pass over or near Barbados early tomorrow

Barbadians have been told not to take the approaching Tropical Storm Harvey lightly and to take all the necessary precautions to protect life and property.

The Department of Emergency Management (DEM) said all disaster emergency preparedness systems were on full alert to respond to any fallout from the storm, the centre of which meteorological officials predicted would pass over or near Barbados by 8 a.m. tomorrow.

The most recent advisory shortly before publication was at 8 p.m. today, and it placed Harvey about 205 miles east of Barbados, moving westward at 18 miles per hour and packing maximum sustained winds of almost 40 mph, with higher gusts.

DEM Deputy Director Captain Robert Harewood this evening warned it was dangerous for anyone to ignore the warnings issued by emergency management officials.

Robert Harewood

“We’d want the public to be aware to avoid walking through flood waters. Motorists should know that although waters may not look deep, anything greater than two feet could move your car. Fishermen should secure their boats properly. If possible, persons should erect simple sandbag barriers to properly protect their property if you know that you are in a flood-prone areas. Given the persistent rainfall we would have had over the last couple of weeks as well, there is increased probability of land slippage,” Harewood said.

The emergency management official also advised residents to be aware of cracks in the ground that may have opened up during the bad weather, and to keep away from retaining walls that may have water trapped behind them.

“With the system expected to start impacting us around
8 p.m. or so, maybe later, persons are advised to stay indoors. If you have any challenges you may call the emergency services for assistance and just be aware of the conditions that may be persisting on the outside,” he emphasized.

Noting that the storm could last upwards of 16 hours, the DEM official urged residents not to rush onto the streets immediately after the all-clear is given.

“When the all-clear is given, we would want the public to remain indoors unless you absolutely have to go on the outside. Once the all-clear is given, that is the time when emergency services will actually start bringing personnel back out. The more intense road-clearing would have to be done. Also, too, be advised that following a weather system impact, you may see agencies on the ground doing certain things, and you may not hear an all-clear.

That is because the agencies will be out and about to re-energize [power] lines, clear roads, main arteries . . . so as to have the roads and so on ready for use by the public following the official all-clear,” he said.

The weather system is expected to dump as much as five inches of rain – and possible higher in some areas – on the island.

In addition, large easterly swells of at least eight to ten feet were also forecasted to accompany Harvey.

When it became apparent that Harvey was heading for Barbados, the stakeholers quickly gathered behind closed at the DEM’s National Emergency Operations Centre and recommended the closure of all Government offices from as early as 2:30 p.m. today.

The state-run Transport Board also advised that the last bus would leave the terminals at 5:00 p.m. The Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry also recommended that private sector entities employ a staggered shutdown approach, with offices closing at 2:30 p.m.; retail stores at 3:30 p.m. and gas stations and supermarkets and other essentials by 4:30 p.m.

As Barbadians rushed to get home, there was gridlock on the roads with bumper to bumper traffic crawling at snail’s pace out of the urban corridors.

A special committee of CARIFESTA also met this evening, and Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley later announced that tomorrow’s opening ceremony of the regional cultural arts festival had been called off.

There was also a flood of cancellations or rescheduling of events, including tonight’s opening gala reception of the 62nd annual conference of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP), as well as the gathering of party faithful scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday.

These events will now take place on September 1, 2 and 3, the DLP announced.

emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb

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