Storm in Guyana brought down house on Alness children

Georgetown, Guyana, July 9, 2007 (Stabroek News) - Storm force winds which lashed coastal Guyana on Saturday were of the magnitude of 25-30 metres per second, according to the hydro-met department, and on the Corentyne four children had a narrow escape at Alness. The winds wreaked havoc on the Corentyne Coast ripping off roofs and toppling power poles. Four children were trapped in a house at Alness as it collapsed under the wind and a widespread power outage in the township persisted from Saturday evening well into yesterday.

Up to yesterday midday residents of several villages on the Corentyne were assessing the damage done by the winds, which according to the Hydro meteorological Service was as a result of a broad tropical wave interacting with the inter tropical convergence zone.

According to a release from the Government Infor-mation Agency (GINA) regions, Two, Three, Four, Five and Six were among the places affected by the storm. GINA said that the Hydromet office stated that the wave had a low to mid-level cyclonic circulation. It added that the hurricane season is currently on and Guyana's weather will occasionally be influenced by tropical waves and depressions during this period.

About two weeks ago high winds caused some damage to a few areas, which resulted from a different phenomenon called the upper level wind mass.

Meanwhile, at about 3:30 on Saturday afternoon it was chaos on the Corentyne Coast as the winds felled trees and destroyed buildings. The roof of the Winifred Gaskin Secondary School was blown off and the unused building of the Auchlyne Nursery School was flattened.

At Kildonan, one house was completely demolished while several others had their roofs or part thereof removed. Stabroek News took a tour of the Corentyne Coast later Saturday evening and the scene was the same everywhere - people replacing zinc sheets on their damaged roofs.

Children trapped

In Alness also on the Corentyne Coast, the wind brought down a house on four children. According to the mother of the children, Rhonda Griffith, she was not at home at the time but could have seen what was happening from her neighbour's yard. She said she tried to warn the children but they did not hear as the wind was throwing her voice in another direction. Griffith said once the house fell she braved the dreadful storm in a desperate bid to rescue her children who were already trapped under the house. She said when she got closer, not thinking about the worst, she was left transfixed as the house finally made itself comfortable on the ground. The woman said that what saved her children was the fact that the posts fell under the house and this gave her children some space to scamper to safety.

One of the children, Rayon Griffith, recalled that they were playing under the house when all of a sudden "strong breeze start to blow". They did not worry about it until they heard a cracking sound but did not know from where it came. The children continued playing until they eventually saw the house falling on them.

At Rose Hall, business places closed their doors for the afternoon as dust accumulated and flying debris settled into some buildings. One house belonging to R. Naught had its roof completely ripped off and deposited in a neighbour's yard. A few streets away another unoccupied house fell.

Some road construction workers downed tools and ran for cover as they saw "the place start getting black and then them wires start fuh shake and sing" one man said. The heavy winds lasted for about 45 minutes and from Saturday evening well into yesterday midday most parts of the Corentyne were without power.

Vice-Chairman for Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) Dennis Deoroop told GINA that the entire Corentyne coast was suffering from a power outage as a result of numerous utility poles falling. He said however, that the Guyana Power and Light was working to restore power to the affected areas. Deoroop said according to GINA that from the reports he received several communities in the Lesbeholden, Black Bush Polder area were affected. These areas appeared to be most affected, Deoroop said. He noted that a few unoccupied houses collapsed and zinc sheets were ripped off. According to GINA, the Vice-Chairman reported that the Tarlogie government building, the Neighbourhood Democratic Council office and the Guyana Elections Commission office also had their zinc sheets torn off.

Deoroop said that NDC workers across the region were mobilized to recover the sheets for the affected government buildings while villagers undertook to repair their damaged roofs.

In Region Five (Mahaica/ West Berbice) Vice-Chairman, Karran Persaud Deokarran said that some areas in the region were affected. These included Mahaica and Mahaicony where the roofs of several buildings were ripped off. In addition, Deokarran told GINA that several trees fell across electrical wires, knocking down poles and causing power outages. Among the buildings affected were the regional building, the Sea Defence office at Number 7 Village, the Number 8 Primary School and the Blairmont NDC office. GINA said that up to late Saturday night GPL had restored power to villages from Onverwagt to Ithaca and from Plantain Walk to Blairmont.

CDEMA Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Resilience Way, Lower Estate, St. Michael Tel: (246) 434-4880, Fax: (246) 271-3660
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