Trinidad and Tobago is cleaning up after Tropical Storm Karen caused widespread flooding and other damage yesterday.
Downpours associated with the storm – which is now moving across the Caribbean Sea – caused landslides, left several houses and commercial buildings underwater. Some residents had to be rescued as their homes flooded.
The high winds, meantime, downed utility poles and trees and blew off roofs.
And even after a tropical storm warning was discontinued, a red alert for riverine flooding was issued at 3 p.m. because of the heavy rains, and the Met Office warned that flooding was a significant threat for areas near major rivers courses and tributaries as river levels were near threshold values and further rainfall was expected.
By this morning, an orange level adverse weather warning was in effect.
“Periods of heavy to intense rain/showers and/or thunderstorms will continue today. Heavy/intense downpours can result in street/flash flooding. Gusty winds in excess of 60 km/h can be expected and the risk of landslides/landslips is very high in areas so prone. Sea conditions are also likely to become occasionally rough and choppy,” the Met Office said.
Today, all schools remain closed. But National Security Minister Stuart Young said at a press conference yesterday that government officials would open as normal.
“We are asking everyone to exercise caution, but we’re not going to be shutting down businesses and the government. We have just taken that decision after consultation with the meteorological services. They advised we take the decision to close schools,” he said.
And as the twin-island republic deals with the aftermath of Karen, other parts of the Caribbean are preparing for the storm’s arrival.
The storm, which will continue moving across the eastern Caribbean Sea into tonight, is expected to pass near or over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands tomorrow.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for the US Virgin Islands (USVI) and Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra; while a tropical storm watch is in place for the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
At 5 a.m., Tropical Storm Karen was located about 180 miles west of St Vincent and 290 miles south-southeast of St Croix, USVI, and was moving towards the northwest at 8 miles per hour.
At that time, maximum sustained winds were near 40 miles per hour with higher gusts, but the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami said some fluctuations in strength will be possible during the next 48 hours due to strong upper-level winds.