Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hurricane Tomas

Well, St. Lucia was mostly kept awake last night by Hurricane Tomas' howling winds and lashing rain. With little warning, Hurricane Tomas raced up from Trinidad, passed over Barbados as a tropical storm, and turned on St. Lucia as it rose to a category 1 hurricane.

Rodney Bay, Sunday morning at the end of Tomas
I live right at the north end of the island and we had minor damage here, but just a mile or so south as the crow flies and the land rises into steeper slopes, the land has slipped, houses have slipped, bridges are down, trees broken and ripped up at the roots.

Bois d'Orange bridge is no more
We drove to Anse la Raye, the first coastal village south of Castries and even though we're still well in the north, there were many landslips. As power has been restored here and there, the pictures have been coming in uploaded to Facebook and it is not a good sight at all.
Landslip near La Croix going towards Marigot
Just a short while ago, Hon. Guy Joseph, Minister for Communications and Works came on the lone radio station on air - Radio 100; He gave a grave picture. The south of the island is cut off - roads to Soufriere are gone and / or blocked to the North and the South - the road to the Sulphur Springs 'is no more' - a landslide took away the road to Bouton. On the East coast, 20 feet of road near Mon Repos has been completely washed away so you cannot pass.
Vigie Airport not looking too bad
They hope to open Vigie Airport for emergency use tomorrow, but Vieux Fort, Hewanorra, may remain closed for the week and the East Coast road will take about the same amount of time to be fixed or re-routed. They don't expect Soufriere to be reachable by road for about 2 weeks. We hope to get phone connections before then and of course, that they also get power back soon. Like me, many have family in the south and no-one can be contacted - we hope they are ok.

It was just Thursday afternoon that I had a great session with the Micoud Cluster of the St. Lucia Network of Rural Women...we had great plans to forge ahead with good stuff - I wonder how they all are now? And my friends in Choiseul - just roaring into gear after the best training sessions in years, buyers jumping in excitement at the new products...Jean Cooper and her masses of newly dyed straws, she was preparing for Jounen Kweyol that should've happened yesterday and today...I hope she and her family and all the others are ok and their work was safe too. Such fragile lives.

Some reports I saw online said no deaths. If only we were so lucky; so far I heard of two - a woman died as brakes failed in a minibus and apparently a visitor died swimming in the rough seas. I fear as we start to hear from the south, that there will be more dead.
Junction in Cul de Sac going towards Vieux Fort
House slid down the hill, Anse la Raye
Fishing for Cows, Cul de Sac
Keep us in your hearts and prayers. It's going to be a tough time ahead for St. Lucia

UPDATE:

This morning we wake to Vigie Airport being re-opened, but still no communication with many parts of the south of the island. Reports of a massive slide of the road I believe near Canaries - I apologize, the name has vanished from my head! Hewanorra not open yet, but they're working on it. But the road to Castries is still questionable - slipped on the main road, not sure if a back route is passable.
Picture from Norbert Williams - Mon Repos Hole in the Road

The problem is that many roads have slid - and as our road system is basically a ring around the island - if that goes, then people cannot get from A to B. If there is more rain, or even as the water soaks away, and roads are used, there is of course, the danger that more roads slip.

The country will need help. I'll post more as I hear it. In the meantime, listen to Helen !00 online
Soufriere, Hospital Rd. Photo by Fabian Wells
First report of news from Soufriere - unofficial, but a massive landslide at Fond St. Jacques, Soufriere - he reported deaths due to houses going down in the landslide. Unofficial.

UPDATE Monday 3:20 pm

News has reached us now that at least 2 bodies were found in the landslide at Quatre Chimen - Livity Art Studio. Possibly all the family were lost - The Minister of Tourism said Sabi and Eugenia, a resident said the kids...may those who have left us rest in peace.
Eugenia and Sabi - thanks Tricia for this lovely photo
Livity Arts Studio on Arts & Crafts Village