Caribbean islands dodge tropical storm

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Daily life in Trinidad, Grenada, Barbados and Dominica largely returned to normal Wednesday as Tropical Storm Bonnie made no big direct hits, dumping mainly rain in the Eastern Caribbean before continuing its path up the island chain.

Schools and government offices in the sub region reopened for business after authorities had ordered them shut on Monday and Tuesday as the early path of the storm had been pointing to possible landfall in Trinidad and Grenada.

As authorities monitored its path, thousands of Trinidadians flocked to supermarkets and gasoline stations, engaging in panic buying as forecasters urged those in Trinidad and sister Isle Tobago to prepare for the worst -just in case. Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines had cancelled or rescheduled several flights to the US and other destinations as a precaution.

“On the forecast track, the system will pass near or over portions of the southern Windward Islands tonight, Tuesday. As a result,” the weather office had said. Locals took the warning seriously.

In neighboring Barbados, acting Prime Minister Sanita Bradshaw said there was only minor damage to a small number of properties from outer band winds but the island was generally spared in the first major scare of the 2022 storm season.

“Following the early closure of businesses on Tuesday afternoon, out of an abundance of caution, reports coming to hand so far from disaster emergency management indicates that we have been spared the worst of the system. We had reports of roof damage caused by the heavy rains, and window panes being blown out because of the severity of the pressure from the wind. We have had one report of a tree falling on a house in St Thomas, which fortunately did not result in any injury,” she said in a recorded message. Public transportation services have also resumed there.

Meanwhile, the residents in the Dutch islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao had also battened down ahead of the storm as it was expected to make landfall or pass very close on Wednesday, authorities said.

A government statement in Curacao noted “all government services of Curaçao will be closed all day on Wednesday. A curfew is in effect from 4 p.m. Everyone should stay at home. Non-essential businesses must close by 3 p.m. The government advises the inhabitants of the island to hoard. Bonnie will probably arrive sooner than expected as the easterly wind is stronger than expected.”

In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, local media reported that the archipelago had begun to feel the effects of strong winds and rains early Wednesday as feeder bands were recorded all across mainland St. Vincent.

In nearby Dominica, the met office said that Bonnie is likely to pass well south of the island even as authorities urged islanders to pay attention to news bulletins.

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