400,000 TRINIS IN SANDY'S PATH
By DARCEL CHOY Tuesday, October 30 2012
CLOSE to 400,000 Trinidad and Tobago nationals are in Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy’s path which last night continued to pummel several states along the eastern seaboard of the United States with raging winds and heavy rainfall.
Sandy, was for most of the day yesterday a Category One Hurricane, but at about 7 pm the National Hurricane Centre officially declared it a Post-Tropical Cyclone because it was no longer fueled by warm temperatures. However, the storm remained as strong as a Category One hurricane, with powerful winds and low pressure.
More than 50 million people were affected in many states including Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Ohio, Illinois and West Virginia. Ontario, Canada also felt the effects of Sandy yesterday with high winds, severe rain and major waves. All across the eastern seabord schools were closed, businesses shuttered and mass transit was suspended as residents were being told to hunker down. US President Barack Obama as well as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential candidate cancelled their campaign events eight days before Election Day yesterday and today because of Sandy.
In an immediate response, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in a statement yesterday urged nationals in areas within Sandy’s path to follow the instructions of emergency personnel and those in authority in order to protect their lives and minimise damage.
While expressing confidence in the ability of US authorities to handle emergencies arising out of the storm, the PM called on the nation to pray with her for persons in the path of Sandy.
“I am deeply concerned that among those in the path of this monster storm are thousands of nationals from Trinidad and Tobago, Caricom and the United States who I urge to follow the instructions of emergency personnel and those in authority in order to protect their lives and minimise damage.”
She recalled that Sandy had already ravaged the Caribbean killing 61 persons as it passed over Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas and Haiti last week. Persad-Bissessar noted the then Hurricane was forecasted to collide with a cold front and spawn a “super storm” that could generate flash floods, snowstorms and massive power outages from North Carolina to Maine according to reports generated from the National Weather services in the United States.
“Our overseas Missions in Washington, New York and Miami as well as in Canada have been asked to keep lines open so as to respond to the needs that our citizens may have in the aftermath of the impending storm,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said she will keep monitoring the path of the storm as she kept in touch with local authorities in TT so if any intervention was required it could be quickly implemented. She also instructed Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran to keep in contact with the relevant officials in the US.
Persad-Bissessar said she was fully aware that families in TT will be full of anxiety about the safety of their relatives in the US and she assured that she and the Government shared their concerns.
TT’s Ambassador to the US, Mexico and the Organisation of the Americas, Dr Neil Parsan in a telephone interview yesterday from his official residence in Washington, said there were approximately 250,000 to 300,000 Trinidad and Tobago nationals in the state of New York alone, and an estimated 75,000 in the DMV area which include District of Colombia, Maryland and Virginia.
When Newsday spoke to him at about 6 pm he said the winds were raging at about 60 miles per hour and it was expected to get to between 90 miles to 100 miles per hour. He said one major concern for those in Washington were the trees because last year September a storm with winds 30 miles per hour tore down tree which fell on homes causing damage.
“If winds 30 miles per hour can do that amount of damage one can only imagine what winds with more intensity can do, so that is of concern right now, he said.
Parsan said he has been in contact with several nationals across the US ensuring that everything was ok. He said the consulate in New York was closed as they were in a zone where mandatory evacuation was necessary.
Parsan said for him, the only issues he has had at the official residence so far were leaks as the rain was non-stop. He explained the recently refurbished residence had leaks because the hurricane came during the fall season and the leaves which usually fall off the trees during this time were clogging up the guttering.
A Trinidadian national, living in Queens, New York told Newsday yesterday evening that he and his family had stocked up on all the necessities including purified water and canned food in preparation for Sandy to hit. When speaking to Newsday at about 3 pm he said the area was calm but the wind was raging outside.
Sandy also stalled flights worldwide as major airlines cancelled flights into and out of the JFK International Airport. According to international reports, the cancellations have already surpassed those from last year’s damaging Hurricane Irene. Caribbean Airlines also cancelled flights into and out of JFK as well as Pearson International Airport in Toronto as a consequence of Hurricane Sandy.
Two flights were cancelled into and out of Pearson while ten flights into and out of JFK were cancelled. In a statement yesterday, Caribbean Airlines assured its passengers that changes to their reservations will be permitted without penalty subject.