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Severe Weather Feedback - 12/13 Nov 2004

Posted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 11:45 am
by Paul Tallet
If you were following my weather updates during last week you will have read my warnings about the heavy rain expected towards the end of the week.

I have been receiving reports that the rain has caused some damage/flooding in Tobago such as the post below, kindly sent in by Terence under the 'December Weather' string.

Personal report from a friend who experienced the heavy rain on Thursday-

Worst rain we ever had since living here, worse than Ivan even, reached 2'
against our ground floor apartment glass door (and 1' at the patio doors
at the back). We thought we had it under control but then the weight of
water in (and on) the drains outside pushed water back up into the
apartment via the shower plug-hole!! Very dispiriting but the Blitz
spirit kept us going. With dad and I frantically bailing inside and with
lots of towels we kept the flood inside down to 3" before the rain
subsided, after several hours. My garden store was washed away, ripping up
plants in its wake, and the pool now contains mud and brown water - first
time the water level ever breached the raised pool walls. 2 deaths on the
island, after a Haiti style mud slide took away their house in Delaford.
One Toyota Hilux was washed out to sea In Courland Bay - the hapless
occupants were rescued by passing fishermen!

Lets hope this extreme weather remains unusual.

Whenever Ive been there this time of year we have had some short heavy showers but nothing like the above report.

If anyone else has anything to report about the effects of last week's weather I would be most grateful for any contributions here ....


Posted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 12:20 pm
by Paul Tallet
I guess the following news article from the Trinidad & Tobago (13.11.2004) Express sums it up ...

Persistent heavy rains in Tobago for over 12 hours left a trail of death and destruction at Delaford, east Tobago. Dead are 30-year-old Tyrone Keston McMillan of Louis D’Or Local Road in Delaford, and Kathy-Ann Ferguson, 16, of King’s Bay, Delaford. Five persons, all members of the Ferguson family, were injured. The injured persons were airlifted out of the disaster area by a National Security helicopter as the area was inaccessible by vehicle. Kathy-Ann’s mother, Shirley Nimblett-Ferguson, 43, was reported to be in critical condition. The other injured are: Kale-Ann Ferguson, 23; Kershon Ferguson, 17; Kurlon Ferguson, 11; and Kwesi-Ann Ferguson, 8. Kathy-Ann, a student of Bishop’s High School (Tobago), died on the spot, while her mother and siblings were injured when the house to which they had gone seeking shelter, came crashing down, burying them in mud and debris brought down by a landslide.
The Fergusons home had been threatened by the landslide, and was filled with water, and the family had run for shelter at the house which is owned by a foreigner, and for which they were the caretakers. “Everything is in a mess right now! It’s like we are on an island looking out,” said Newsday reporter Marissa Williams, whose family’s home is adjacent to the Fergusons. She reported that the landslide swept down a hilly incline, crushing the house and spreading trees, mud, and other debris, which covered the area. McMillan, who was employed as a barman at Blue Waters Inn, Speyside, died instantly when a landslide buried his pick-up van he was trying to move out of a danger zone. According to reports, a landslide had come down shortly before in the area where the van was parked, with no damage to the van. McMillan, the father of an infant boy, decided to move the van to safety, and as he was doing so another landslide slammed into the vehicle.

His son Kofi’s first birthday is tomorrow, and a gala birthday party was being planned by McMillan and his girlfriend Gillian Thomas, of Roxborough, Kofi’s mother. Reports also indicate that up to 3 pm yesterday a man in the nearby village of Speyside was trapped in his house which was covered by a landslide and in a precarious position. With the road impassable, firemen who had reached as far as Delaford decided to start making the trek to Speyside on foot in a bid to rescue the man, who was not immediately identified. Landslides, some of them major, dotted the Windward Main Road leading to the east end of the island; long stretches of the road were completely obliterated by mud and slush, and in some areas it was as though trees and shrubs were actually “growing” on the road.

Big Hole, Goodwood, resembled a swimming pool and traffic was stalled in this area for quite some time as operators of Tobago House of Assembly (THA) heavy equipment machinery and other workers worked feverishly to clear the road. The east end was without electricity and telephone communication in some areas. NEMA and other related agencies have also been mobilised in the recovery work effort. Landslides were also reported in the northern end of the island at Castara. In the western end of Tobago, there was flooding in low-lying areas, including Carnbee and Canaan/Bon Accord, but no casualties or extensive damage occured as in the east. The rains began around 1am yesterday and continued incessantly with heavy downpours until about 8 am. In the north east districts, at Charlotteville, Speyside, Delaford, the rain had been reportedly falling intermittently throughout Thursday.

Posted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 4:06 pm
by Kevin Hampson
Hi Paul,
I've just read your latest posting with some sadness, I have fond memories of Tyrone at BWI and remember the happy cheerful bartender he always was and the way he made us feel more like old friends than hotel guests, he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.


Posted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 8:05 pm
by Paul Tallet
Indeed Kevin

I recall meeting him myself.

There are further updates on the situation and it appears that, due to the landslides around Tobago, it has been difficult for any recovery efforts to reach the worst affected areas without a helicopter.

I understand that Charlottesville is currently only accessible by boat.

The area of Delaford seems to be the worst affected in Tobago.

I would refer those that wish to see ALL the current information to

There is also video footage and news reports that I expect will be updated from time to time.


Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 10:29 pm
by Cornelia Montgomery
My heart goes out to all of the wonderful people of the beautiful village of Charlotteville and nearby towns; what a terrible tragedy.

Posted: Tue Nov 16, 2004 7:46 pm
by Steve Wooler
At long last I have managed to make contact with a few people who provide holiday accommodation in the north of the island.

Rainer Tichai who owns Top River Pearl in Charlotteville has been going frantic with worry for the last couple of days. Fortunately, he managed to make contact with Lisa, his manageress, earlier today and she reports no damage, just mud in the downstairs laundry/utility room.

Within the past few minutes, I have received the following report from Duane Kenny at the Blue Waters Inn.
I cannot begin to describe the destruction of the rain on the villages of Loui D'or, Delaford, Speyside and Charlotesville. The roads are in a mess. Whole sections of mountains have come down. Tyrone our bar tender was killed on Friday when a hill fell on his car as he was moving the vehicle. A horrific loss as he was one of our best. The hotel is operational as far as guests are concerned. We have power, water, and food. 7 rooms are without AC has a land slide destroyed those. All rooms were otherwise unaffected. The parking lot is under tons of mud, along with the tennis court but guests can still come in and out from the property. Driving to the other side of the island takes hours now due to the amount of heavy equipment trying to clear the landslides on the road. Kings bay road is in bad shape, caution must be exercised when driving it. In fact I would ask you to post up on the site that during this period, visitors to the island should not drive past Loui D'or unless they are coming to stay at a hotel as the less cars that are on the road the quicker we can clean and fix the roads.
As Cornelia says, our heart goes out to everyone in the affected areas - and obviously to Tyrone's family. I knew him and, as Duane says, he was one of the best.

Posted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 5:47 pm
by Geoff M
Tragic. I remember Tyrone from our trip in September and he was a genuinly nice guy.

Sad sad loss for his family and friends.

They have my sincerest condolences.

Posted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 7:58 pm
by Paul Tallet
Relief efforts appear to be getting through to Charlottesville by road.

The latest can be found on the link below.

[redundant link removed. Editor]


Posted: Fri Nov 19, 2004 4:21 pm
by Mike Davey
Coco reef hotel flooded , just a well i was upstairs although that did not save some people

Posted: Fri Nov 19, 2004 4:25 pm
by Mike Davey
just read my note and realised it sounds flippant amidst genuine tragedy , not meant to be

Posted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 5:16 pm
by Graham Jones
My wife and I were in Tobago at the time of the storm. It began on the Thursday evening, with the most spectacular electric storm I have every seen. To the north-west and south-west of Tobago two separate storms competed for attention. At this point they were well away from the island as no thunder could be heard. We watched for at least two hours, as lightning streaked across the skies, in the manner of firework rockets, but travelling in all directions.

We then retired for the night and it says something for the roof of the Grafton Beach resort that we didn't really hear the rain during the night, only one or two claps of thunder.

Awaking about 7 am, I went out to the balcony and the rain was torrential, with the hotel gardens rapidly flooding even though they are on a hillside. The rain then increased in intensity! and a river about ten feet wide started to flow down the side of the Grafton's gardens by the squash courts. By about 8 am the rain started to ease and by 9 am it had stopped at Stonehaven Bay as it gradually cleared from the north-west. However it took most of the day to clear from the south of the island.

At this point, we weren't really aware of how bad the rain had been, though when we finally made it down to the beach bar at about midday, the beach at Stonehaven had been cut into sections, with deeply gouged channels from the run-off. Normally it is possible to easily walk the 250 yards or so along the full length of the beach, but now after about every 50 yards it was necessary to navigate through a deep channel of rainwater. (Within 24 hours the sea had completely smoothed out the beach.)

Walking along the old Grafton Beach road we came across several landslips, one near the Seahorse Inn covered half the road. At the Stonehaven Villas the swimming pool had been filed with brown run-off water and sodden furniture was in the garden awaiting disposal or drying.

I purchased the Tobago News last Thursday night at the airport on our way home and it was only when you saw the colour pictures in there, that we realised how severe the situation had been. Crown Point airport had 210mm (8 inches) of rain between 2 am and 8 am (A normal November month's rainfall). This was reported to be the most intense rainfall ever recorded in Tobago or Trinidad. Of course Crown Point is in the Lowlands and in the more mountainous north of the island the rainfall had been much greater. There were reported to be thirteen major landslips in the north-east of the island and the villages in the north were completely cut off, access only being possible by sea or by helicopter. In addition to the two tragic deaths, a man was trapped in his collapsed house in Speyside and the fire-officers had to travel on foot to effect a rescue, as all roads were blocked.

According to The Tobago News the effects of this storm were much worse than Hurricane Ivan, despite there being no wind.

Ironically the weather during the rest of the 10 days we were there was very good. We only had one 'tropical' downpour of about 20 minutes during daylight hours in the remainder of the 10 days. Lots of very hot sunshine and sunburn!

Posted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 12:31 am
by Cornelia Montgomery
I came across some rainstorm photos from Charlotteville: ... /index.htm

Posted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 3:15 pm
by Jean Kitson
Not much to add to Graham's excellent description of the storm. We were staying in Blue Waters Inn. We'd been out in Speyside and walked back at 11pm, spending ages watching the lightning with no idea of how destructive the rain was going to be. In fact, we slept pretty well (also being upstairs) unlike the poor American couple who got water running through their room from about 5am. The rain was incredibly heavy and I peeked out at one stage but thought it was all running off safely. We were amazed when we got down to breakfast at 9am to discover the extent of the damage (although as Graham said, the beach looked dreadful but was returned to normal by the end of the day, although the bay was brown with mud and sand). But as I've said in my post about Blue Waters Inn, the staff were amazing in clearing up and looking after us - they really are fantastic.

There were no communications beyond Speyside. Some firemen had been flown in by helicopter but had to stay overnight when it didn't come back for them. One of the Aquamarine dive boats and a mini-fleet of smaller fishing boats took us out the following morning (Saturday) on quite a tense journey - we tried to land at Roxborough but there wasn't anywhere, then luckily a local fisherman showed us round to the next bay where we had to leap in the water to get out. There was a couple with a young baby who took it all amazingly calmly in their stride! Not until we got into a taxi to Crown Point (soaked and muddy from the boat journey) could we see how widespread the landslips were. But there were bulldozers clearing away already and getting the road open. Crown Point looked fine, not damaged at all.

Anyway, despite this I would happily go back to Tobago in November; it was just bad luck and we didn't let it ruin our holiday; in fact, we came to know the other guests and some of the staff better than we otherwise would have. It is very sad for the island but I hope no-one will be put off from going; it is a wonderful place and people are rectifying the damage very quickly.

What are the conditions now?

Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 12:30 pm
by David Old
:cry: Its very sad to here of the recent deaths and the destruction that seems to have destroyed a very beautiful place with friendly people. My wife and I were married on the beach at Le Grand Courlan in January and we are currently planning our return to celebrate our 1st anniverasy. Could anyone please let me know the current state and conditions we might encounter.

Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 12:35 pm
by Steve Wooler
Hi David

Welcome aboard!

Fear not. If you're thinking of going back in January you will see very little sign of the damage. Even now road are open. Yes, the evidence of land slides are very evident in some areas, as are trees downed by the hurricane, but none of these will impede your holiday, or in any way detract from you holiday, other than in the emotional sense of thinking how sad it is to lose life and trees, etc., this way.

Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 5:44 pm
by Paul Tallet
It may be worth mentioning that the whole of the Caribbean has had a pretty ghastly November, not to mention the hurricane activity in the earlier part of this year's low season.

I am seeing some statistics suggesting that most Caribbean countries have experienced record levels of rain during November and in many cases, this record has been broken in a short space of time.

So ... to put this into perspective ... the recent weather patterns have been very very unusual.

Hope this helps all the worriers.


Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 8:35 pm
by Marc Jones
Yes, yes, but will they all just hurry up and get "normal" before Monday next week please.


Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 9:22 pm
by Paul Tallet
Yes Marc ... my magic weather wand is being waved about in a vigorous manner !!

Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 9:34 pm
by Marc Jones
Careful now, we're sailing into Carry On territory :-)

Posted: Thu Nov 25, 2004 12:42 am
by Paul Tallet
OOooooooh MATRON !!!