While the Carolinas and other southeastern American states prepare for this week’s arrival of monster storm Florence, countries in the Eastern Caribbean sub region were bracing for the passage of Tropical Storm Isaac as the 2018 hurricane season approaches its peak.
So far several air carriers, including American Airlines and Antigua-based commuter carrier LIAT have either cancelled flights or rearranged schedules for Thursday and Friday as the storm approaches the Leeward Islands and will head north to other Caribbean Community nations.
Forecasters have downgraded it from a hurricane in the past 24 hours but have warned that warm open sea waters and other conditions at this time of the year are ideal for re-strengthening so the entire sub-region and those north of it should remain on alert.
Taking no chances following the level of destruction wrought on the region mega by Storms Irma and Maria last year, the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and other agencies were in full preparation mode and the British Government moved a relief and rescue ship to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean this week ahead of Isaac’s arrival on Thursday and Friday. The ship docked in Bridgetown on Tuesday.
“We have come to Barbados to refuel and top up our stores, before we position ourselves to render assistance wherever it might be needed,” Barbados Today online service quoted Captain Peter Selby, commander of the Mounts Bay as saying as the vessel tops up supplies before heading out to countries like Dominica and others in the direct path of Isaac.
The ship has onboard several pieces of heavy duty equipment including tractors, trucks, quad bikes, all terrain vehicles, food, water and other supplies for distribution should the need arise.
British envoy Janet Douglas said everyone remembers the disastrous 2017 storm season and the level of destruction if brought to the Caribbean so “to have Mounts Bay on standby is hugely reassuring. Her presence confirms the UK’s ongoing commitment to the region.”
Meanwhile, schools were ordered closed in Dominica for Thursday and Friday as a precaution in and island where more than 90 percent of the buildings and infrastructure was damaged by category five Hurricane Maria last year.
“We will close the schools tomorrow because we want to take precautionary measures. We expect rain tomorrow and I have been advised based on the weather reports that during this storm, we expect up to 10 inches of rain in the country and we do not want to have a situation where we allow our students to come in for an hour, two hours and have to rush them back to their homes,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said.
The current path projection is for Isaac to pass over still traumatized Dominica late Thursday, meaning that island below it or to the south will get a tastes of her earlier in the day. The entire area is expected to be inundated with heavy rains, as much as up to 10 inches forecasters say.
Island hopper airline, LIAT meanwhile, cancelled or rescheduled dozens of flights for Thursday and Friday, especially those leaving from its Barbados hub and headed north to Antigua, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and other destinations.
Far north in Jamaica, the island and its thousands of tourists have been asked to remain on alert with Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jackie Bisasor-McKenzie telling the nation that “we have been getting our supplies in place to make sure that we have tarpaulins, raincoats, things to supply the hospitals and the regions in case it is needed. In terms of our vehicles, we keep a constant check on what is available to ensure that we know when something is needed for transportation and we know exactly where they are and how it is that we communicate,” she said.
In neighboring Bermuda and the Bahamas, these two are monitoring both Florence and Isaac, Florence in particular as this category four storm is much closer to their general geographic area than any other.
Bahamian authorities say Cat Island, Abaco and Eleuthera could be affected as they urged people to stay away from beaches and to take precautions.