As Trinidad and Tobago prepares for a tropical storm battering, the country’s leaders are missing.
There is complete silence from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, who is head of the National Security Council, and Minister of National Security, Edmund Dillon.
Instead, it had to take the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Vel Lewis, to rally a last minute press conference to update the county on the approaching storm.
In cases like this, the head of the Government, leads from the front. Ask Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, or St Vincent’s Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, or Barbados’ Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart.
They have grown accustomed each year to approaching storms and they host their press conferences to update their citizens.
Even Tobago has taken it seriously. Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), Kelvin Charles, chaired a meeting of TEMA officials in Scarborough to discuss the storm.
Not so in Trinidad and Tobago.
It took Captain Neville Wint, of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) to carry the press conference on Monday afternoon to advise citizens on what they should do as the storm approaches later in the night.
Two Permanent Secretaries from Health and Local Government updated the country on their emergency plans and a representative from the Met Office did likewise.
A female police officer informed the media that all leave has been cancelled and that all police officers should report to their respective divisions.
The Regiment will give support to the police, while the Coast Guard has removed their vessels to a safer location.
The effects of the storm will begin later on Monday night and will continue into Tuesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
All incoming and out going fights from Piarco International Airport have been cancelled, while the ferry service to Tobago has been stopped. All schools will be closed on Tuesday.
THE LATEST ADVISORY
The government of Curacao has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for that country.
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Trinidad *
* Venezuela from Pedernales to Cumana including Isla de Margarita
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case within 24 hours.
A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours. For storm information specific to your area, please monitor products issued by your national meteorological service.
DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK ------------------------------
At 200 PM AST (1800 UTC), the disturbance was centered near latitude 8.8 North, longitude 57.8 West. The system is moving toward the west near 25 mph (41 km/h).
A fast motion toward the west-northwest is expected over the next 48 hours. On the forecast track, the disturbance is expected to move through the Windward Islands and near the eastern coast of Venezuela tonight and early Tuesday. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph (65 km/h) with higher gusts.
Some strengthening is expected during the next 48 hours, and the disturbance is forecast to be a tropical storm when it moves through the Windward Islands and eastern Venezuela tonight and Tuesday. Thunderstorm activity associated with the disturbance continues to show signs of organization, and additional development is likely during the next day before the system interacts with Venezuela.
* Formation chance through 48 hours… high…80 percent * Formation chance through 5 days…high…80 percent Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center. The estimated minimum central pressure is 1005 mb (29.68 inches).
HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach portions of the warning area tonight, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous. RAINFALL: The disturbance is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 2 to 4 inches over the Windward Islands and the eastern coast of Venezuela tonight and Tuesday.