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Roofs torn off, trees crash as Bret flexes muscle

The trinidad Guardian / Gusty winds and torrential showers began pounding the eastern swath of Trinidad last night and there were reports of fallen trees, power lines, roofs torn off and flash flooding as citizens battened down for the full might of Tropical Storm Bret.

Roofs were uprooted at Gadjadhar Street, Sangre Chiquito and Pluck Road, Penal.

Trees crashed in remote Matelot, in the Northeastern fishing village as rescue crews responded to clear the debris and restore power in a co-ordinated effort involving several agencies.

People were seen boarding up windows and glass doors to their homes and business places.

In flood prone areas, people were seen packing sand bags around their homes.

Supermarkets remained opened until 8 pm to accommodate last-minute shoppers who cleared shelves off candles, water and other non-perishable items.

The Ministry of Education announced that all schools would remain closed today and the Banker’s Association last night also stated the commercial banks would also remain shut.

In Tobago, the Tobago House of Assembly budget day scheduled for today has been postponed to Thursday.

The 14 borough corporations in Trinidad and the THA, the first responders to any potential disaster were on high alert to respond to emergencies. Several community centres, schools and churches were transformed to temporary emergency shelters.

Office of the Disaster Preparedness Management (ODPM) officials, up to late last night said that they remained on alert but would not be able to do anything substantial until the storm passed”

The Ministry of Health announced its cancellation of all elective surgeries and said all health centres would be staffed on a 24-hour basis once the storm hits.

At 5 pm, the centre of Tropical Storm Bret was located by an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft to be near latitude 9.4 North, longitude 59.8 West, which is about 200 km south east of Trinidad and about 365 km south east of Grenada.

With the worsening of the sea conditions as the storm approaches the public is being warned to stay away from all beaches and sea coast activities until further notice.

This warning came last evening by the Ministry of National Security’s Lifeguard Services Unit.

The ministry asked people to pay special attention to the sea conditions as it is said to be “getting rougher, more hazardous and waves are increasing in size. Also, rip currents are also increasing in strength and size.”

The Tropical Storm Warning, according to the T&T Meteorological Office, remains in effect for T&T, Grenada and Venezuela from Pedernales to Cumana including Isla de Margarita.

Bret was moving toward the west-northwest near 30 mph (48 km/h) and was expected to continue at a slightly slower speed over the next 48 hours. On the forecast track, the tropical storm was expected to move near or over Trinidad and the eastern coast of Venezuela last night and early this morning.

The storm carries the same name of a hurricane with narrowly missed both Trinidad and Tobago in 1993.

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