By Kenton X. Chance
- School closed for the rest of the week
- Business closed on Thursday
- All water systems have been turned off
- Dozens in emergency shelters
- Flooding, landslides, and power outages in several areas
One teenage boy died Wednesday night when a boulder crushed him as he tried to alleviate flooding in his home during the passage of Tropical Storm Matthew.
The dead teenager is said to be a form four student of the Buccament Bay Secondary School, but officials did not release his name to the media Wednesday night and iWitness News has been unable to independently verify his identity.
On the heels of the death comes as Deputy Director of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), Michelle Forbes, has made a very strong appeal for persons to remain vigilant as drains and rivers have overflown their banks dumping debris and other materials on the roads making some roads impassable.
A resident of the Central Leeward town told iWitness News Wednesday night that Lynch was crushed when he attempted to make a path behind his home for water that was flooding into the house.
The house is located close to a rocky cliff and reports are that a boulder that had come loose suddenly, pinned the student against the wall of the concrete house, killing him on the spot.
Meanwhile, in Buccament Bay, a neighbouring village in Central Leeward, dozens of persons abandoned their homes and sought refuge in emergency shelters as the river nearby again flooded its bank.
Police officers, including members of the Rapid Response Unit, where at the Buccament Bay Secondary School around 10 p.m., helping to transport persons to the official emergency centre – the NIS Golden Years Centre, located about a quarter mile away.
Assistant Superintendent of Police, Enville Williams, told iWitness News that he and his men were there to help to save lives.
He said that some of the persons would have been taken to the NIS Golden Years Centre in Cane Grove and others to Rillan Hill, depending on their preference.
Buccament Bay resident, Renrick Quashie, had helped to alert his neighbours about the floodwaters when the river burst its banks around 8 p.m.
Quashie, who has been forced to convert his one-storey house to a two storeys because of repeated flooding over the years, told iWitness News that he was on the upper floor of the unfinished house monitoring the river when a gush of water overflowed the riverbank.
“So I ran downstairs and tried to alert my neighbours and my family to try to get out. And after I realised that the water was getting high, I went further down to see if any other persons were there and then I realise there was a neighbour who was living at the back of me. So I had to run and I was being swept away but I managed to go back out and pound down her house and tell she ‘Get out! Get out! Get out!’”
He said all the residents made it to safety.
Quashie said everyone on the left side of the street between the Buccament Bay Secondary School and the sea vacated their homes.
He said about 25 persons left their home.
They included infants, children, young adults, and senior citizens.
But residents were displeased that the secondary school is not an emergency shelter.
Quashie said that the designated shelter is about 10 to 15 minutes walk away from the secondary school.
“I don’t think that is safe enough in time of disaster because to go up there you have to meet up on the same river. You have to take the main road to be on the safe side,” he said.
Resident can also cross a bridge and walk across the playing field to get to the river, but they would then be between two tributaries of the Buccament River, which disaster officials warned as earlier as 7 p.m. was rising rapidly.
The river claimed several lives during the passage of the Christmas Eve trough system in 2013.
Quashie, a security guard employed by a Kingstown-based security firm, was concerned about the security of residents’ possessions in their homes.
“Basically, when you have disasters like these and everyone is evacuated out of the village, you have persons who don’t have a conscience who would use the opportunity to go and loot your homes. For example, I heard it happened in Dominica.”
Quashie said he has decided to stay at the secondary school and guard for the neighbourhood “because we are our brothers’ keeper.”
Quashie, who was soaking wet, said that when the water subsides he would go back home and dry clothing.
Meanwhile, the police said they had taken note of the residents’ concerns about the security of their homes and properties.
Williams said the police will make patrols in the area.
And, about 25 persons from Rillan Hill and Buccament Bay had moved into the Rillan Hill community centre Wednesday night as the tropical storm continued to unleash its fury on St. Vincent.
There were reports of flooding in a number of areas, as well as landslides and power outages.
The state-owned Agency for Public Information (API) said late Wednesday night that there have been confirmed reports of flooding in Vermont, South Rivers, sections of Kingstown, Campden Park, Arnos Vale, including the E.T. Joshua Airport, Langley Park and Buccament.
In addition, NEMO has received confirmed reports of damage to several homes, landslides and blocked roads.
The Central Water and Sewage Authority (CWSA) has reported that Hermitage River has risen by 1.10 meters in the last hour and Dallaway by 81 mm in the three hours ending 11 p.m. Wednesday.
As a precautionary measure, the CWSA turned off all of their water systems.
Schools will remain closed for the rest of the week and businesses across St. Vincent and the Grenadines will remain closed tomorrow, Thursday.
NEMO is urging residents not to go sightseeing as emergency services will be responding to reports and roads have been impacted by landslides and flooding.
Meanwhile, forecasters at the E.T. Joshua Airport said late Wednesday that a tropical storm warning remains in effect for St. Vincent and the Grenadines
A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are likely to affect the country — in this case, during the next 24 hours.
At 8 p.m., the centre of Tropical Storm Mathew was located near 13.9°n 62.4°w or about 90 miles (145 km) to the north-west of SVG
Matthew was moving towards the west at 15 mp/h (24 km/h) and a further decrease in forward speed is expected during the next few days.
Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph (100 km/h) with higher gusts.
Gradual strengthening is expected during the next couple of days.
On the forecast track, the centre of Matthew will move away from the Windward Islands through the night. However, significant amounts of activity remain east of SVG, forecasters say.
Matthew will continue to produce moderate to heavy showers, thunderstorms and gusty storm force winds across St. Vincent Wednesday night into Thursday. Rainfall accumulations of 4 to 8 inches (100 to 200 millimetres) are anticipated, with higher amounts likely in mountainous areas. In addition, seas will continue to be rough in open waters with swells of up to 6 meters (18ft).
Residents living in flood-prone areas and areas susceptible to landslides should continue to vigilant and take all precautionary measures to protect life and property.