Antigua counting the cost of Hurricane Earl
ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – Several persons were evacuated from their homes on Monday as a rampaging Hurricane Earl dumped seven inches of rain on Antigua and Barbuda, flooding low lying communities.
Disaster officials said that the Category Three storm felled trees and utility poles and triggered an island wide blackout.
Officials from the State-owned Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) were on Monday assessing the damage caused by the third named storm of the 2010 hurricane season.
Electricity Manager Lyndon Francis said residents would have to wait several hours more before the assessment is complete and the grid repaired. Island-wide service was shut down on Sunday after lightening struck one of its generating plants.
The VC Bird International Airport was re-opened on Monday and the regional airline, LIAT said that it had resumed flights to a number of Caribbean countries. It warned however that several flights would depart late in the evening.
“Passengers should be aware that there are likely to be some disruptions and delays to the schedule due to prevailing weather conditions,” LIAT said, adding “passengers should note that all flights north of Antigua except LI 544/545 to and from St. Kitts are cancelled”.
Police said they had to rescue seven people from a house in the hard-hit southwestern community of West Palm Beach in Bolans Village. The unidentified persons were trapped in waist-high water.
“On our way to down to where the rescued live, we met the police and they indicated to us that they rescued two persons but they were uncertain as to how deep the water was, they could not see clearly and they were not going any further,” said media personality, Cleveroy Thomas, who assisted the law enforcement officials in carrying out the rescue.
Meteorological officials said Hurricane Earl dumped more rain on the twin isle state than Hurricane Omar in 2008.
Director of the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) Philmore Mullin expressed concern that not enough was being done to prepare for storms noting that many people here did not take the storm seriously. He said the Earl experience would make a good case study.
“I suspect that when they heard it was going to shift north they didn’t take any precautions at all then at the last minute when it appeared it was going to come our way, a lot of them start rushing to make last minute preparations,” Mullin said.
Governor General Dame Louise Lake-Tack declared Monday a public holiday in an effort to better facilitate cleanup.
Chief Health Inspector Lionel Michael said he expected the cleanup to begin in earnest on Tuesday even as he expressed concern about the risk of waterborne diseases. He called on citizens to boil all drinking water.
Meanwhile, Earl was continuing to strengthen as it made it way across the northern Leeward Islands.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said that the center of Hurricane Earl was located 95 miles east north east of St. Thomas and 165 miles east of San Juan Puerto Rico.
The storm is packing winds of 120 miles per hour.