The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has ordered the closure of all businesses and non-essential services from 10 p.m. Thursday and all day Friday as Tropical Storm Harvey approaches.
“Please note, according to the meteorologists, according to the scientists studying the weather system, the system is moving towards us. That is, from the east to the west at 18 miles an hour and on this trajectory, the centre of the storm is expected to pass over mainland St. Vincent just about noon tomorrow,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said in a national address Thursday evening.
Gonsalves said all emergency shelters are to be activated from 8 p.m. Thursday.
“All shelter managers are asked to activate their shelter management team and have the shelters open by 8 p.m. to receive persons who need shelter,” Gonsalves said.
He said that, as always, his government recommends that the first option is to stay with friends and family and then emergency shelters as a final option.
“Please check to see where your nearest shelter is as one may not be close to you,” said Gonsalves, who is head of the national emergency management council.
Gonsalves also announced that the National Emergency Operations Centre, located at the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), in Kingstown, will be activated at 8 p.m. Thursday.
The Argyle International Airport will close at 8 p.m. and LIAT, the main airline surviving the airport has cancelled its other flight for Thursday night.
“And based on the current forecast, the airport is unlikely to open during the day tomorrow (Friday),” he said, adding that persons who are travelling are, however, asked to check with their respective airlines and listen to the radio for any changes.
“Remember this meteorology, this science is not a precise science. The best I can do and the best the Met Office and NEMO can do is to provide the advice to me so that we can take certain decisions. Naturally, between now and tomorrow sometime in the afternoon going into the evening, you will hear from me again, and during the course of the day, you will hear from Michelle Forbes, from NEMO.”
Gonsalves said that the weather system is expected to be packing winds of 45mph with higher gust when it passes over St. Vincent.
“It means, therefore, that these are winds which can cause a lot of damage,” Gonsalves said.
He said that the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Meteorological Services have said that the country is expected to be affected by moderate to heavy showers, storm force winds, and rough seas later Thursday night into Friday as Tropical Storm Harvey passes across the country.
The prime minister urged all residents to be careful as the nation experiences storm conditions.
“Residents in areas prone to landslide and flooding are asked to take all the necessary precautions as heavy rains may result in flash floods and landslides,” the prime minister said.
He said the SVG Met Services and NEMO will continue to monitor the passage of Tropical Storm Harvey and provide regular updates.
“Again, I am urging everyone to take all the necessary precautions to protect life and property. Do not take this storm for granted as on its current track, the system is expected to pass directly over St. Vincent and the Grenadines, producing storm force winds, rough seas and heavy rainfall,” Gonsalves said.