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Caribbean: Hurricane Tomas

By Janine Mendes-Franco

Trinidad and Tobago, the twin island republic that seemed to be directly in Tomaspath on Friday, was spared its effects, but as the storm veered north, islands that had previously been out of its path were suddenly thrust into storm warning mode.

Barbados, still grappling over the death of its Prime Minister, was the first to get hit. Barbados Free Press' reported that:

It’s not too bad. Noisy. Wet. Water went off with the power, but it’s back. One of our friends has one of those little wind things on top of his house and it hit 87 mph just before a calm period maybe an hour and a half ago.

A later update stated:

There are a couple of boats smashed up at Oistins. Lots of damage, roofs off. It looks like the south took a harder hit than we did.

Facebook was filled with private updates discussing the intensity of the storm and the fact that some areas were without electricity; after the worst was over, My Barbados Blog posted this update:

The parishes hardest hit by Tomas were St George, St Philip, St Joseph, St Michael, St Andrew and St Lucy with roofs blown off, trees uprooted, palings blown down, streets blocked, and downed utility poles.

The Bajan Reporter posted a story which stated that the country's Department of Emergency Management was caught “pretty much off-guard” by the warnings from the Barbados Meteorological Service.

The storm ploughed through St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Martinique where damage primarily consisted of felled trees, downed power lines, flooding in some areas and roofs being torn off, but Vincentian bloggers have been uncharacteristically quiet, leading to speculation that internet access may also be affected. Dominica News Blog said:

The passage of Hurricane Tomas to the south of Dominica has brought a day of gusty winds and heavy showers. No damage has been reported as yet, but the current poor weather conditions are set to continue overnight.

The storm now appears to be headed towards Jamaica; bloggers have been discussing the country's level of preparedness on Twitter. @anniepaul said:

ppl are aware and nervous but we're still recovering from Nicole RT @Fledgist: @anniepaul How ready is Jca for Tomás?

@therealnickmack added:

@anniepaul We're not ready! There are so many damaged roads & bridges that are either being repaired or not yet assessed!

Tomas is now situated south-southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico; the hope remains that the Category 2 storm, which is expected to gather more strength, will steer clear of Haiti, which is still dealing with the debilitating effects of the massive January 12 earthquake and a recent cholera outbreak. real hope for haiti is reporting that:

Haiti issued an orange storm alert, the second highest level. Authorities warned southern and western regions — including the quake-ravaged capital of Port-au-Prince, where an estimated 1.3 million people are living in tent camps — to be on guard for high winds, thunderstorms and possible flooding.

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