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Motion against Premier Donaldson Romeo government defeated

Motion against Premier Donaldson Romeo government defeated

BRADES, Montserrat, Oct 29, CMC – The motion of no confidence against the government of Premier Donaldson Romeo was defeated as expected on Monday after all five government legislators voted to keep the four-year old administration in office.

“I wish the PDM (People’s Democratic Movement) well in the next year in office,” said opposition member Dr. Ingrid Buffonge, who had tabled the motion against the government, she was once a member.

Premier Donaldson Romeo, speaking in Parliament
on Monday (CMC Photo)

But as she wound up the debate, she said she wanted to caution Montserratians “to vote wisely” adding “let us not make the same mistake”.

The motion was born out of her disgruntlements and disatisfaction, with the Ministry of Health, surrounding health care, ending in her request to the health minnister Delmaude Ryan to resign, and to the Premier to dismiss her if she didn’t resign.

Buffonge said that she was pleased in bringing the motion since it was important to “hold the government to account”, but acknowledged that the vote would not be in support of removing the Romeo administration, no doubt in apparent reference to the decision by former agriculture minister Claude Hogan to side with the government.

Some obviously uninformed so-called political observers had expected Hogan, who was fired by Romeo last year, to vote in support of the opposition that included two former PDM members.

But when he made his contribution to the debate, arriving back from the UK moments earlier on Thursday night, Hogan said that he had no intention of voting against the government that came to power in 2014, winning seven of the nine seats at stake in the Legislative Assembly.

“We should withdraw the vote of no confidence.  If you want to change the premier there is a way to do it,” said Hogan, putting to nought the observers speculations.

Buffonge, had earlier said that she wanted to inform legislators, foreign investors and other stakeholders interested in the development of the volcano-ravaged British Overseas Territory that the motion does not signal “political instability” here.

“My colleagues in opposition and myself as well as others who will be elected in the next general election, and I do speak for some of them no, after four years of getting things so terribly wrong we pledge to get it right.”

Earlier Premier Romeo dismissed the arguments made against by the opposition as he defended his tenure in office.

He told legislators also that while being appreciative of the role Britain plays in the development of the volcano ravaged island, London was also imposing all manner of restrictions stifling his administration.

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Poll finds majority of Antiguans in favour of replacing Privy Council

Poll finds majority of Antiguans in favour of replacing Privy Council

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Oct 30, CMC – The majority of people in Antigua and Barbuda favour replacing the London-based Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Appeal, according to an opinion poll released here on Tuesday.

The poll, conducted by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services Inc (CADRES) found that 62 per cent of the 800 people polled during the period October 12-14, said they supported a move to the Trinidad-based CCJ as the island’s final court.

Antigua and Barbuda will vote in a referendum on November 6.

CADRES said that the opinion poll was devoted to an exploration of the referendum issue and sought to understand how Antiguans felt about the CCJ in principle and also how they planned to vote on November 6 .

“In addition, questions as to major reasons why people supported and opposed the CCJ were explored in an effort to provide some amount of context on this issue,” the pollster said, adding that the methodology used was similar to that of previous CADRES polls in Antigua and Barbuda.

It said the face to face survey exercise was conducted by interviewers who administered a short, standardised questionnaire to approximately 800 respondents that were randomly selected from all constituencies across Antigua.

According to CADRES, the majority of those polled (62 per cent) said they “Supported the move to the CCJ” either now or in the future, while 17 per cent said they “did not support the move to the CCJ” and 22 per cent preferred “not to say” how they felt about this issue.

“Thereafter respondents were presented with a list of possible reasons why they would vote “For” or “Against” the CCJ and asked to indicate which single reason appealed to them most. Among those who supported the CCJ, the most compelling reason was the suggestion that the CCJ was “cheaper to access” while” those who opposed the CCJ thought that it would be “more open to political influence”.

CADRES said that responses to the central question of how persons intend to vote at this time if restricted to those committed to vote either “For” or “Against” demonstrate that the required threshold of 66.6 per cent has narrowly been achieved at this time.

However, CADRES would caution that this outcome could be affected either by any variation in the margin of error of the poll (+/- 5%) or if the participation of the Barbudan voters (two per cent) shifts the pendulum away from the “Yes” vote”.

CADRES acknowledged that the views of Barbudans were not canvased on this occasion, but noted that a 2016 poll did cover the island still recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Irma.

“Comparatively, we note a marginal improvement in the level of support for the CCJ, a plus two per cent compared to a marginal reduction in the level of opposition, a minus two per cent, which can easily be explained by the exclusion of Barbuda on this occasion which was purely on account of our client’s timeline for completion”.

In October 2016 CADRES indicated that it felt the referendum would “narrowly achieve the margin necessary for the measure to pass” and at this time “we are similarly persuaded, but caution that the margin here is “razor thin”.

CADRES said it also explored the reasons for support and opposition more exhaustively and noted that the primary characteristic that separated those “For” from those “Against” is their political affiliation with supporters of the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) being more inclined to support the CCJ, while supporters of the United Progressive Party (UPP) are less inclined.

“This relationship was noted in 2016 an is no less pronounced on this occasion, notwithstanding efforts to de-politicise the vote. There were; however other reasons for support and opposition gleaned on this occasion and we believe that this information will be a useful basis for dialogue in the final weeks leading up to November 6, 2018,” CADRES said.

The CCJ was established by regional governments on 2001 to replace the Privy Council as the Caribbean final court. But while most of the regional countries are members of the court’s Original Jurisdiction, only Barbados, Dominica, Belize and Guyana are signatories to the Appellate Jurisdiction of the CCJ that also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaraas that governs the regional integration movement.

Apart from Antigua and Barbuda, voters will also be casting ballots in a referendum on November 6 on the CCJ issue.

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Foreign Minister urges voters to dismiss petty political difference ahead of referendum

Foreign Minister urges voters to dismiss petty political difference ahead of referendum

By Linda Straker

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Oct 29, CMC – Foreign Affairs Minister Peter David has called on Grenadians to put aside their petty political differences and vote in favour of a referendum that will allow the island to replace the London-based Privy Council as its final court.

The referendum is schedule for November 6, the same day another when Antigua and Barbuda, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country stages its own referendum on whether to replace the Privy Council with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Foreign Minister Peter David (left) and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell (File Photo)

Speaking at the convention of the ruling New National party (NNP) on Sunday, David said “I want to speak to everybody out there, who loves Grenada, who loves this country let us for once put Grenada first”.

David, who was retained as assistant General Secretary, said there should be support for the CCj that was established by CARICOM leaders in 2001 as the region’s final court and which also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the r4gional integration movement.

“If you believe in the CCJ, if you NDC (National Democratic Congress), NNP, PLP (People’s Labour Party), whatever you are, let us vote CCJ,” David said.

“I heard the leaders of the trade unions say they support the CCJ, I have heard the church leaders say they support the CCJ, I have heard the leader of the NNP say he supports CCJ, I have never heard so many sectors of our country say they support something,” said David.

“It’s the one time when I see that leaders have unanimity on an issue, everybody says they support it, well if you do support it then vote for it because you cannot allow petty differences, to stop us. I am speaking to my friends who are not here, you cannot allow partisan tribalism as you had allowed in 1983 to separate us.

“If we support it, we support it. If the leaders of the trade union movement say they support it, then vote for it on November 6. The workers who follow them must do what they say and support it, if the leaders of the NDC say they support it, then members of the NDC should vote for it, if the leader of the NNP says he supports it and the party supports it, then the party members must support it, the point I am making is this, we have to come together,” said David.

“Let us disagree on other issues, let us disagree about other kinds of things, there is enough to disagree on, but let us agree on what we agree on. If not now, then when? If is over 100 years we fighting for independence, we have the chance now so let us do it,” David told the NNP convention.

He said that when Grenada got its independence in 1974 from Britain, London gave the island a court that citizens had no say in deciding upon.

“Did any of you vote for this two-thirds majority? We just got it because the British give it to us; We have a chance now to assert our independence, we have a chance to agree on something. I urge all of you to go out and get your people to vote, mobilise, take your car and seek them out to vote for CCJ,” he recommended.

“It is a chance for us to say to the world that Grenada can unite on something, it is a chance for us to say to the world that we are one on an issue. It is chance for us to present to the world that we are a proud people, an independent people,” said the foreign minister.

“I don’t want to bow my head in shame when I am ask what Grenada do when asked about our independence and bringing our court system into our jurisdiction and I have to say we voted against it.

“I don’t want to be going into the corridors of power throughout the world as the foreign minister and having to explain, well you know sir everybody agreed with it but because we belong to different tribes they voted against it,” said David, adding “we are one tribe, we are Grenada, I say this to my NDC brethren, to my church brethren, to my labour brethren, we are one, let us agree and vote for the CCJ”.

Political leader and Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell told his supporters that they should see a yes vote as an investment for future generations.

“Give this exercise support, see this vote as one for our children and grandchildren future, don’t just vote but encourage others to vote,” he said.

Two years ago, Grenadians voted 12,434 to 9,492 against the 2016 Constitution of Grenada (Caribbean Court of Justice and other justice-related matters) Bill in a November 2016 referendum.

The CCJ Bill was one of seven which the electorate voted on separately in 2016. A two-thirds majority was needed for the amendments to pass, but all seven Bills were rejected by voters.

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St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrating 39th anniversary of independence

St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrating 39th anniversary of independence

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Oct 27, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines is celebrating its 39th anniversary of political independence from Britain on Saturday with Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves indicating that the country has made “modest’ economic growth over the past year.

Addressing the Military Parade here, Gonsalves said that th3e island’s diversified economy is growing and being placed on a sound footing.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves addressing
the Military parade (CMC Photo)

“Indeed this year, our country is experiencing economic growth albeit it modest following upon marginal to modest economic growth in each of the last seven years.

“At the same time the government’s fiscal condition has improved despite the loss of substantial resources under the PetroCaribe agreement occasioned by the unwise banking and financial sanctions against Venezuela,” Gonsalves said.

PetroCaribe is an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. The alliance was launched on the 29th of June 2005 in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. In 2013, PetroCaribe agreed for links with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), to go beyond oil and promote economic cooperation.

Gonsalves told the nation that amidst all the challenges facing the country “we have not gone to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) nor have we sold our citizenship and passport” he said in reference to the move by some Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to lure foreign investors through the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) that allows them to get citizenship in return for making a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of their countries.

“Our passports and citizenship are not commodities for sale. We oppose such sale in principle and in practice. I so re-affirm today,” Gonsalves said.

He said that the various sectors of the economy, including the banking, and credit unions “continue to play a significant role in our country’s development.

“Current initiatives by the state sector facilitate and fuel further developmental advance. We see so in the consolidating and expansion of education, health and housing revolution,” he said, noting the new Argyle International Airport is now playing a significant role in the development of the tourism industry.

He said those who had been very critical of the airport were on the losing side “again and again and again” and that the “existing hotel stock is expanding and new hotels and apartments are currently being built”.

He also made reference to the proposed US$145 million modern cargo project and the multi-million dollar plans to re-develop the city.

In his address, Gonsalves said that during the period 2010-17, St. Vincent and the Grenadines suffered losses estimated at EC$700 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) or one third of the gross domestic product (GDP) due to the impact of climate change.

“Climate change is now unfamiliar in time, type and seasonality. Unprecedented in their frequency and intensity and thus urgent beyond measure. Both the pre-existing condition of countries like ours and the immediacy of climate change have given rise to the many sided concept of small state exceptionalism as a category in the global political economy which deserves a special carve out and recognition beyond the traditional rubric hitherto of special and differential treatment,” Gonsalves added.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has extended congratulations to St. Vincent and the Grenadines with Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, saying that  “the chosen theme for this year’s festivities ‘Working together to enhance national pride’ encourages Vincentians to combine their efforts, not only to ensure a prosperous and secure future for the next generation, but also to strengthen their fraternal bonds.

“Prime Minister, the commitment of the government and People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in promoting regional integration, particularly as it relates to the Regional agenda for transport, is most appreciated.

“This is illustrated by the dedicated efforts to ensure that the importance of transport to the sustainable development of the Community remains at the forefront”, LaRocque added.

Gonsalves is the prime minister with lead responsibility for Transportation, Maritime and Aviation in the CARICOM Quasi-Cabinet.

“CARICOM looks forward to the continued active engagement of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in strengthening the development of the Community,” the Secretary-General said.

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Prime Minister Mitchell to take witness stand in corruption probe

Prime Minister Mitchell to take witness stand in corruption probe

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Oct 26, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is expected to be among witnesses summoned to testify in a financial wrongdoings and corrupt practices investigation into the Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB).

The probe is being undertaken by the Office of Integrity Commission and Mitchell confirmed that he is prepared to be called as a witness.

“Question under oath is coming, they (the Integrity Commission) sought to have resources from us and we were positive to that; They may call me too, but as I say I am prepared to be called to give an idea of my knowledge and information,” Mitchell told reporters, when asked to provide an update on the investigation which was announced in July.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell

As a state-owned enterprise, the MNIB falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance headed by Mitchell.

The Commission was established to ensure that public officials uphold high standards of integrity in the performance of their public functions and to give effect to the provisions of The Inter-American Convention against Corruption. It will assist in improving the standards of good governance, transparency and accountability in government.

In July, Mitchell announced that Cabinet had endorsed a recommendation for a thorough investigation amid revelations of possible inappropriate use of MNIB funds.

Mitchell had also acknowledged that a lot had gone wrong at the MNIB and following the appointment of a new board in March, the then chief executive officer, Ruel Edwards left his job for a new post within the Ministry of Economic Development.

Edwards has since been placed on leave by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the body that contracted him to the post to the new post.

In September, the Integrity Commission said that further to media reports and statements circulating about financial wrongdoings at the MNIB it had commenced investigations into the operations of the board.

Mitchell said that Cabinet will endorse the Commission investigation and will accept its findings.

He told reporters Wednesday that the investigation will be led by “outside legal personnel” and that other government departments were also under investigations by the Commission.

“We have to be honest with ourselves, those who don’t want to admit it that is their business…if we want to say there are not corrupt practice within the public service, the could say so, I know there is corruption in every single Department of Government, that is a fact, it may be at different levels,” he said.

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DSC_9700

Did the Education Minister claim environmental issues for teachers at MSS?

Minister of Education, Mrs. Delmaude Ryan

The Minister of Education, Mrs. Delmaude Ryan was speaking just before she declared open the Montserrat Union of Teachers Convention on Friday, October 5, at the Lookout Primary school convention.

Delivering the feature address at the Convention while expressing concern and the government’s desire to have a high number of trained teachers at the Montserrat Secondary School, which she said stood at 72% in 2016/17 and was above the average set for themselves had declined to 55% in 2017/18.

She said that the retention of teachers is a problem across the world. “This shows you the challenges all around the world in being able to retain as well as to increase the number of trained teachers in our classrooms,” she remarked.

However, she pointed out that the retention of teachers is not always about the salary. “Trained teachers overall, keeping and retaining teachers is not necessarily at times about the salary, but is the environment that is created, the support that they receive in that environment that encourages whether they want to stay or whether they want to leave,” she said.

This caused the speculation that all was not well with the conditions of work around the school, but without expanding on the issue, she concluded, “There’s a very important role that we all play in how do we work together as a team in delivering that one core essential item of education to our nation’s children.”

She then noted, “At the primary level we have 77% of teachers trained so it is at a good level comparatively to others across the world, however for Montserrat our aim is to bring that up to 100 percent trained.

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Hawaiian Island Vanishes Overnight

It is slowly being accepted, the term ‘Climate Change’ with the further acceptance of the scientific explanation that earth continues to evolve. Makes for interesting education, discussions and debates, especially among students, scientists and yes, politicians. What is real is that ‘preparations’ must take place to deal with the effects on mankind.

LiveScience

A hurricane has wiped a Hawaiian island completely off the map.

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East Island, a tiny speck of land in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in northwest Hawaii, was washed away by Hurricane Walaka on Oct. 3 and 4, Honolulu Civic Beat reported Tuesday (Oct. 23). The island had been a critical nesting site for threatened Hawaiian green sea turtlesand critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals, biologists told the news organization. 

“There’s no doubt that it was the most important single islet for sea turtle nesting,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) biologist Charles Littnan told Civic Beat.

East Island was a mere 11 acres (0.04 square kilometers) in area. Between 1944 and 1952, it hosted a small Coast Guard station, but the island has otherwise been a haven for wildlife, ranging from albatross to turtles and seals. Satellite imagery has confirmed the island’s demise, but a marine debris team will be headed to the area to survey the damage this week, the Civic Beat reported.

Researchers told Civic Beat that the island’s seals and turtles had left the island after their breeding season but before the hurricane struck. It’s unclear, so far, whether they’ll find a new haven on one of the nearby shoals.

“Species are resilient up to a point,” Littnan told Civic Beat. “But there could be a point in the future where that resilience isn’t enough anymore.”

The Hawaiian green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) is a genetically distinct species of green sea turtle found almost exclusively around Hawaii, according to NOAA. They are legally protected under Hawaiian law and the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and those protections have resulted in a 53 percent increase in population since the late 1970s. Their primary nesting grounds are the French Frigate Shoals, including the former East Island.

The Hawaiian monk seals (Neomonachus schauinslandi), which used East Island as breeding grounds, are in a more precarious position. These seals are found only in Hawaii, and despite their protections as a critically endangered species, their numbers are still declining, according to NOAA. Only about 1,400 Hawaiian monk seals are left in the wild, NOAA estimates. A couple hundred of those call the French Frigate Shoals home, Littnan told Civic Beat. And of those, about 30 percent were born on East Island.

The shoal was the victim of bad luck, given the storm’s direct hit. But researchers told Civic Beat that Walaka was strengthened by warmer-than-average ocean waters, a trend scientists predict will only worsen as the globe warms.

Originally published on Live Science.

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US Coast Guard repatriates Dominican and Haitian migrants

US Coast Guard repatriates Dominican and Haitian migrants

 
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Oct 21,  CMC – The United States Coast Guard says the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez   have repatriated 12 Dominicans and returned two Haitians to Dominican authorities following the interdiction of a migrant vessel in the Caribbean Seas off Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

The US Coast Guard said the interdiction is the result of ongoing efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

Two of the interdicted male migrants are Dominican Republic nationals, who are facing potential federal criminal immigration charges in Puerto Rico for attempted illegal re-entry into the United States, the Coast Guard said.

“The outstanding work by the Coast Guard and our interagency partners focused on humanitarian efforts and preventing loss of life at sea,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rafael Battle, US Coast Guard Heriberto Hernandez commanding officer.

“The Mona Passage is a volatile waterway with heavy seas,” he added. “Transiting on dangerously overloaded and unseaworthy vessels poses large risk to anyone making the journey from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico.

“Fortunately, we discovered and saved 16 people before they encountered other potential dangers,” Battle continued.

The Coast Guard said during a routine patrol of the Mona Passage Thursday night, the crew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft detected a “grossly overloaded 25-foot migrant boat transiting without navigational lights,” about 10 nautical miles north of Mona Island.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan diverted the Heriberto Hernandez to interdict the vessel, the Coast Guard said, adding that the crew of the Heriberto Hernandez arrived on scene, stopped the boat and safely embarked all 16 migrants; 14 Dominican Republic nationals, 10 men and 4 women, and two Haitian men.

The US Coast Guard said Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents in Puerto Rico received custody of the two migrants facing prosecution, while the Heriberto Hernandez later rendezvoused with a Dominican Republic navy vessel and transferred custody of the remaining migrants to Dominican Republic authorities.

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PM to seek Cabinet approval for flood relief funds

PM to seek Cabinet approval for flood relief funds

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct. 21, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley says he will approach Cabinet for funds to help with flood relief.

Rowley was speaking during a joint media conference on Saturday

“I would speak ahead of the Cabinet here and indicate that I would ask Cabinet to approve and authorize TT$25 million initially to assist persons who may require assistance from the treasury. We will ensure that this money is well spent and is spent as quickly as possible on those persons who have been affected,” he said.

Heavy rainfall over the last few days have resulted in widespread flooding across Trinidad and Tobago.

“This is a national disaster, the flooding is quite widespread and quite severe and it is going to cost a lot of money to bring relief to people who have been affected. Notwithstanding whatever shortages we are experiencing we will have to find the resources to help,”   Rowley said after touring some of the affected areas.

According to the Prime Minister, the Defence Force, especially the Coast Guard and Fire Service have been using small boats going streets to reach residents stranded in their homes.

Meanwhile, there are no re­ports of fa­tal­i­ties as a re­sult of the floods in sections of the twin island republic.

During a press conference on Saturday, National Security Minister   Stu­art Young  made the state­ment in reference to information being circulated on  so­cial me­dia.

He told reporters that  fake in­for­ma­tion be­ing cir­cu­lat­ed on­line has caused first re­spon­ders to di­vert at­ten­tion from af­fect­ed ar­eas.

Young has also mobilised    the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) to conduct an aerial reconnaissance .

The ODPM says the adverse weather situation will continue until Sunday and urged motorists to seek alternative routes where possible and be extremely vigilant of rising flood waters.

“The ODPM appeals to all persons to take the necessary precautions to preserve life and property,” it said, adding that people should also desist from driving or walking through flood waters.

“Vehicles do not provide adequate protection from flood waters. Vehicles can be swept away or may stall in flood waters,” the agency said.

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Serious flooding in Trinidad and Tobago

Serious flooding in Trinidad and Tobago

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct 20, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government Saturday said teams were working to rescue people trapped by floods and landslides caused by heavy rains here over the past 48 hours and that the full extent of the damage caused will be revealed as the water subsides in the coming days.

“This is a national disaster, the flooding is quite widespread and quite severe and it is going to cost a lot of money to bring relief to people who have been affected. Notwithstanding whatever shortages we are experiencing we will have to find the resources to help,” Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said after touring some of the affected areas.

The Met Office said that an active ITCZ continues to produce periods of rain/showers and thunderstorm activity which can lead to flash or riverine flooding as well as landslides/landslips in areas so prone. Gusty winds can be experienced in the vicinity of heavy downpours.

Flooding in La Horquetta along the east-west
corridor in Trinidad

Many parts of the country were flooded and there have been widespread reports of landslides and road blocks caused as a result.

While there have so far been no reports of deaths or injuries, the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service has issued a “Red Riverine Flood Alert” warning persons to take all precautions to protect life and property.

“Riverine flooding occurs when water levels in a river over-tops its banks and spills into surrounding areas. This type of flooding is more widespread and usually lasts for several days,” the Met office said, adding that currently river levels have exceeded threshold levels and some have already over spilled their banks.

In a statement early Saturday, Prime Minister Rowley said that he had been receiving “timely updates” from the relevant government agencies responsible for spearheading the ongoing rescue operations as well as those coordinating relief efforts in the communities affected by severe flooding.

He said “throughout the night and into this morning the men and women of our protective services and the various Regional Corporations have been working diligently on the ground to respond to this disaster”.

Rowley said that members of the Coast Guard and Defence Force are working to rescue those who are trapped, adding “for those of you who are still stranded I know that patience may be running thin but help is on the way”.

Rowley said that National Security Minister Stuart Young is mobilising with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) to conduct an aerial reconnaissance “so that we can better ascertain the scope of the intervention required.

“The Government through its respective agencies is working to ensure that much-needed resources reach those who require assistance. In the coming days the full extent of the damage will be revealed as the water subsides. Today there are families seeking shelter at community centers and schools,” Rowley said, urging citizens to ‘continue to remain vigilant and heed the warnings and alerts from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management and the Meteorological Office”.

The OPDM said that the adverse weather situation will continue until Sunday and urged motorists to seek alternative routes where possible and be extremely vigilant of rising flood waters.

“The ODPM appeals to all persons to take the necessary precautions to preserve life and property,” it said, adding that people should also desist from driving or walking through flood waters.

“Vehicles do not provide adequate protection from flood waters. Vehicles can be swept away or may stall in flood waters,” it said.

CMC/rl/ir/2018

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