Giving thanks: Antigua and Barbuda largely spared Tammy’s wrath

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Antigua saw some soggy conditions yesterday (Photos by Johnny Jno-Baptiste)
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By Gemma Handy

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Residents across the country were yesterday breathing a sigh of relief that the twin island nation was spared the full wrath of Hurricane Tammy.

Formidable winds and torrential rainfall left some neighbouring islands counting the costs of the damage as Tammy made her presence felt, turning roads in Guadeloupe and Barbados into waterways.

In Antigua and Barbuda, the category one hurricane’s torpid pace – which dropped to as slow as 7mph on Friday night – stalled its arrival, heightening anxiety and raising fears of catastrophic flooding.

In the end, a slight shift in direction to the north-northwest saw Tammy give Antigua’s east coast a brush before heading to the sister isle which received a harsher pummelling. Climatologist Dale Destin said the fact that the strongest winds and heaviest rains were tightly wrapped around Tammy’s centre had been the saving grace, resulting in reduced impact.

Barbuda was hit by strong category one conditions, with sustained winds of 92mph late Saturday night. Around seven people were rescued from rising floodwater and taken to shelters for refuge.

The low-lying isle also suffered several downed trees and electricity wires sparking a total outage for some time but emerged largely unscathed.

The hurricane warning for Antigua was dropped at 11pm Saturday and 6.25am Sunday for Barbuda.

Rain continued to pour down on Sunday in Tammy’s waterlogged wake. As of 3pm yesterday, Antigua had recorded up to two inches of rain in some areas over the preceding 24 hours, while Barbuda had seen just shy of 4.5 inches. The most violent rainfall in Barbuda was when Tammy’s eyewall hit, racking up more than half an inch in just 10 minutes.

Images captured by Observer’s photographer and others shared online showed soggy conditions in Antigua – coupled with a replenished Potworks Dam reservoir – and localised flooding in Barbuda. Midcie Francis, spokesperson for the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS), confirmed to Observer that both islands had seen minor damage only. Neither were there any immediate reports of injuries.

“About 300 persons moved to 22 shelters on both Antigua and Barbuda. Most individuals have since returned home and the majority of the shelters have closed,” a NODS statement said.

State utility provider APUA said it had received more than 60 reports of faults with teams hard at work restoring electricity to affected networks yesterday. Thunder and lightning delayed reconnection in some areas.

VC Bird International Airport reopened at noon yesterday. Flash flood warnings for both islands, along with Montserrat, were due to be lifted at 8pm Sunday.

Assessments of government-run schools – which closed to students on Friday to facilitate hurricane preparations – were still being carried out up to news time.

However most schools in Antigua looked set to open, while those in Barbuda will remain closed Monday.

“We are opening the education system here in Antigua and the few schools that are unable to function for one reason or the other will inform parents through their respective parents’ WhatsApp chat groups and the other usual means of reaching parents,” Director of Education Clare Browne told Observer last night.

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