Storm rips roofs off houses

Guyana Chronicle
October 27, 1999

A STORM ripped roofs off several houses in an East Bank Demerara village yesterday afternoon as the whiplash continued along the coast from turbulent weather conditions in the Atlantic Ocean.

No one was reported injured when the storm swept through Grove, damaging more than six houses, but residents along the East Coast Demerara kept a close watch on sea defences taking more battering from pounding waves driven by thunderstorms in the Atlantic Ocean.

The more weakened sections of the East Coast sea wall just east of Georgetown were being reinforced with heavy concrete blocks and sand bags up to late yesterday afternoon but water continued to pour through in some areas for a third day running.

Weather officials say waves from unusually high spring tides pose more of a threat to fragile sea walls in some coastal areas because of the thunderstorms in the Atlantic.

Grove residents said unusually high winds struck during a short storm at around 14:00 hrs (2 p.m.) yesterday.

The roofs of more than six houses were torn off by the heavy winds accompanying the storm but most residents said it happened so quickly, they did not see anything.

Many did not realise what happened until they saw the damage to their neighbours' homes.

Fitzroy Fields, 14, was one of the few persons at Second Phase, Samantha Point, Grove, who actually witnessed the brief storm that hit the village.

He said he and two other boys were under an empty house pelting at marabunta nests when there was a sudden heavy rain which was blown beneath the house by high winds.

"The rain looked like dust", Fitzroy said.

When the roof of the house blew off, Fitzroy said he and the other boys were afraid.

The top of that house blew on to that of the neighbouring building, belonging to Nestor Baptiste, tearing off a part of its roof and upsetting the interior.

Baptiste, who was among neighbours trying to put their homes back together late yesterday afternoon, said all his furniture and electrical appliances were wet.

Speaking above the noise of hammering on zinc sheets on his roof, Baptiste said he was at work when the storm hit. A message was sent to him and he rushed home.

Next door to Baptiste, Rupert and Chrissa Wilkinson were also trying to replace their roof before night fell.

Chrissa who held a baby in her arms, said she was packing up her shop when there was sudden thunder and lightning. Her zinc sheet roof tore away and her entire kitchen was flooded by the rain.

"This never happen yet; never yet, never in history", Chrissa said.

A shop owner near the Grove public road was also taken aback by the strange weather.

According to him, it rained so heavily nobody could see properly.

To be cautious, he unplugged his freezer at a sudden flash of lightning and clap of thunder.

"Long time we na get suh hard rain", he said.

As the high tides rose again yesterday afternoon on the East Coast, curious and concerned residents were checking the seawall between Ogle and the University of Guyana road.

Waves lashed the makeshift sea defence backed up by sand bags and water seeped through at different points.

The force of the waves swept away some sand bags at one point.

By 16:20 hrs (4:20 p.m.), Police, as they did the day before, began directing traffic as water from the sea started to flow on the road.

A resident, Ms. Patricia Benn, who lives on the public road said salt water had drenched her entire front lawn and damaged her small kitchen garden.

Benn said all the vegetables will die.

Chief Hydromet Officer, Mr. Dilip Jaigopaul said more high tides are expected today.

He said the very high spring tide and yesterday's freak storm at Grove are associated with thunderstorms in the ocean.

He said checks at 13:00 hrs (1:00 p.m.) yesterday showed a solid mass of thunderstorm clouds across the coastline extending from the Mahaica River on the East Coast Demerara, past Charity at Essequibo. There were thunderstorms on the coast, he said.

There were more thunderstorm clouds in the Atlantic Ocean but these are expected to drift westwards today, Jaigopaul said.

He said the clouds are associated with a tropical wave, which is a weather disturbance in the wind field.

The waves generate storms, he explained. (GWEN EVELYN)

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