Hinds: More soldiers sent to Tobago for hurricane

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds. – File photo

ADDITIONAL Defence Force personnel have been deployed to Tobago to assist operations there in anticipation of the passage of category-four Hurricane Beryl.

On June 30, forecasters said Beryl was expected to remain an “extremely dangerous” category-four storm when it hits the southeast Caribbean. They have warned the first major hurricane of the Atlantic season would bring life-threatening winds and storm surge to the Windward Islands early on Monday.

Hurricane warnings were in effect in Barbados, St Lucia, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Tobago. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for Martinique, and a tropical storm watch is in effect in Dominica and Trinidad.

National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said all security forces were on high alert and mobilised on both Trinidad and Tobago.

The Chief of Defence Staff was asked and agreed to provide additional Defence Force personnel from Trinidad to Tobago, the minister said.

Hinds also said the Fire Services have also put together search-and-rescue teams to respond on both islands.

Also speaking at a 6 pm media briefing on June 30, Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi said shelters had been activated in Trinidad by the various regional corporation bodies.

He said sandbag distribution was ongoing and there were 11 free parking locations in Trinidad, as the ministry expected the runoff of water to be problematic. The parking facilities will be manned by the police.

Al-Rawi said all schools in Trinidad will remain closed on July 1. He also urged the private sector to use prudence in co-ordinating staff.

Newsday was also told Chief Justice Ivor Archie advised Judiciary staff  that all courts in Trinidad will work with an in-person skeleton staff and will be supported by remote operations. All in-person trials will be rescheduled.

In an earlier release, the Ministry of Trade and Industry  said border agencies were mobilised to ensure the safe passage of marine vessels, including yachts and pleasure craft into TT, which is considered a safe haven for all marine interests because it lies below the hurricane belt.

The ministry said preliminary data from the Marine Services Association showed over 100 vessels en route to TT, while others had arrived safely, based on GPS tracking.

The ministry said all border agencies including Customs and Excise, Immigration Division and Port Health were activated to process the arrival of vessels from the Eastern Caribbean seeking shelter.

It said all customs fees have been temporarily waived as a measure of goodwill.

Caribbean Airlines announced changes to its regional and domestic flight schedules, all of which on July 1 were cancelled.

Customers were told all fees had been waived for tickets rebooked up to July 28.