|Provo gets worst of Irene||| Print ||
|Written by Richard Greenemail@example.com|
|Saturday, 27 August 2011 10:21|
Hurricane force winds of nearly 100 mph that whipped the Turks and Caicos Islands late Aug. 23 and early Aug. 24 left widespread power outages, significant flooding of low lying areas and a number of damaged roofs but no reported injuries, officials said.
The most inhabited and tourist-oriented island of Providenciales was the last to feel Irene’s effects and got the worst damage because the storm came closest to it, said acting Gov. Martin Stanley. A number of homes were damaged on Provo, and flooded roads and neighborhoods were causing problems with transportation.
Horatio Tuitt, director of the National Emergency Operations Center, said the most damage on Providenciales was reported in Five Cays, Blue Hills, Chalk Sound, Glass Shack, Discover Bay, Kew Town and the downtown area.
Each area on Provo and on other islands was being assessed by the Red Cross and others to determine what kind of assistance and supplies are needed to be sure each area gets what is necessary, Tuitt said.
The U.K.’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service ship Wave Ruler arrived off Grand Turk on Aug. 25, and its helicopter took Stanley, Tuitt and others on an aerial tour of all the islands. At a press conference at the Air Turks and Caicos fixed base operator facility at the airport, they happily reported seeing very little damage.
The Wave Ruler carries essential stores including tents to provide shelter, fresh water, tarpaulins, portable generators and equipment for ground clearance. Tuitt said those would be delivered as needs dictate.
In addition to government helping people secure their homes and draining flooded areas, the public needs to take measures to ensure that the torrential rains do not cause health problems, Stanley said.
Huge areas of standing water will soon breed millions of mosquitoes, and Stanley urged residents to drain all areas of standing water to reduce the potential for health problems. Engineering and Maintenance Services has been pumping water from key areas, and it will be fogging and using chemicals to prevent mosquito breeding, he said.
Stanley also asked residents to properly dispose of garbage to prevent problems with rodents.
The Providenciales International Airport reopened to all flights at 12:30 p.m., and hospitals on Grand Turk and Providenciales reported no problems during the storm.
Grand Turk, the capital island that was first in Irene’s path on Aug. 23, suffered less damage than Provo, Stanley said. Some roofs were damaged, and power was out over most of the island of about 3,000, but power was restored Aug. 24 to most areas.
Fortis TCI Ltd., which provides power to most islands except Grand Turk and Salt Cay, said six of its 13 feeders along with its underground transmission lines on Providenciales never lost power during the hurricane. Repairs were still being made in Kew Town, South Dock, Five Cays and Beachfront Road in Blue Hills.
Power was restored on North, Middle and South Caicos except for a few houses that suffered damage. Fortis said power would be restored to all customers on or before Aug. 27.
Fortis TCI said people should avoid going near downed lines, and emergencies should be reported to 946-4363.
Digicel TCI, the largest telephone service provider in the country, said minor damage to certain areas of its network caused some customers to experience difficulty making and receiving calls for a number of hours Aug. 24, but full service has now been restored.
Islandcom said the majority of its customers did not experience interruptions in voice service, but that unexpected power surges and wind damage to equipment caused temporary data outages for a number of customers in some areas of the TCI.
Stanley pointed out that people should use phones sparingly for calls, texts and e-mails during and after storms and only for necessary communication because overloading the telecom networks makes it difficult emergency officials to relay vital information.
Similarly, people should not drive around the islands immediately after storms unless absolutely necessary to keep roads clear and to avoid damage to vehicles.
The causeway between North and Middle Caicos, which was heavily damaged in 2008 by Hurricanes Hanna and Ike, took another beating but is still passable, Stanley said. However, he cautioned that it should only be attempted during the daylight hours in four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort Villages and Spas on Providenciales, the largest resort in the country, reported that all guests were safe, but that it was closing to new arrivals for 15 days to clean up landscaping debris and conduct a full review of the property.
“Guests scheduled to travel to Beaches Turks and Caicos while the resort remains closed will receive a full credit valid for up to one year towards a future stay at any Sandals Resorts or Beaches Resorts in the Caribbean,” the resort said.
The last “I” storm to hit the islands — Hurricane Ike in 2008 — caused significant damage on South Caicos and Grand Turk, which took years to recover.
Photo: These apartments on Leeward Highway were flooded for days after Hurricane Irene passed the TCI. (Richard Green/Staff)
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