BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Tropical Storm Tomas has blown off the roofs of several buildings, uprooted trees and utility poles and made several roads impassable in Barbados as it makes its way towards the northern Windward Islands at hurricane strength today.
Rescue and medical officials were warning Barbadians and visitors alike to remain indoors and Judy Thomas, Director of the Department of Emergency Management said “this is not a time to venture outside”.
She said there were reports that several persons had left their homes to view some of the damage caused by the storm and warned “we do not have the capability to send out emergency crews right now”.
She said that it is hoped the” all clear” would be given by midday today when rescue and other crews would begin an assessment of the damage caused by Tomas, the 19th storm of the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane season.
“We are having a very difficult situation,” Thomas said, as initial reports indicate that several homes have had their roofs blown away and several cars had been crushed by fallen trees and utility poles.
Medical officials were reporting that they had received several calls from persons suffering from various injuries and that they were being advise not to travel to the hospitals or health clinics until the “all clear” had been given.
Earlier, the regional airline LIAT and American Airlines announced that they had cancelled flights into and out of the Grantley Adams International Airport on the island's southern tip.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that Tomas was now 70 miles south-east of St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour (mph).
A hurricane warning remains in effect for Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia and the French island of Martinique, while tropical storm warnings are in effect for Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and Grenada.
“The center of Tropical Storm Tomas was located near latitude 13.1 north, longitude 60.1 west. Tomas is moving towards the west-northwest near 15 mph and this motion is expected to continue with a gradual decrease in forward speed tonight and Sunday,” the NHC said.
It said that the center of the storm will pass through the northern Windward Islands later during the day and enter the Eastern Caribbean Sea by tonight.
The maximum sustained winds are near 70 mph with higher gusts and strengthening is expected during the next 48 hours.
“Tomas is expected to produce total rain accumulations of three to five inches with possible isolated maximum amounts of eight inches across portions of the Windward and Southern Leeward Islands”