ROSEAU, Dominica, Wednesday September 9, 2015 – Disaster management officials are on standby to evacuate residents of low-lying and vulnerable areas as tropical depression Grace approaches the water-soaked island that is still far from recovering from the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Erika.
And schools which were to reopen today will now be closed until next Monday.
Although forecasters say Grace will likely be a remnant low or tropical wave by the time it reaches the Lesser Antilles Friday, officials are taking no chances because of the heavy rains that could come accompany the system.
Last night, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, along with disaster management and meteorological officials, held a media briefing at which they advised residents to be prepared for the inclement weather.
Acting National Disaster Coordinator at the Office of Disaster Management Don Corriette reiterated the caution that Skerrit gave the previous night, about the danger that even a little rain could pose to the island which Tropical Storm Erika dumped 15 inches of rain on when it passed late last month, causing major flooding and landslides, loss of life and almost EC$1 billion (US$370 million) in damage.
“We need to step up our guard because the soil is already saturated, the slopes are very unstable and it would not take much rain for our slopes to come tumbling down again,” Corriette warned.
“We are proposing that we evacuate persons in low lying areas, in river bank areas, in water courses that are prone to flooding and are compromised . . . We cannot over-emphasize the need to be vigilant, to take proactive and preemptive action to save lives and property. We have lost too many lives. We are in the region of 11 and there are still persons unaccounted for and we do not want that toll to go up,” he added, making reference to the bodies discovered and the others missing and presumed dead.
Corriette said a final decision on whether the evacuations would be carried out would be made in due course.
“If Grace begins to lose grace, it may not be necessary,” he explained.
Meantime, Prime Minister Skerrit said the opening of schools has been pushed back once again.
Secondary school students had been expected back in the classrooms today, but because of the impending bad weather, the start of the new school year for those older students will be next Monday when primary school students also return.
At 5 a.m., Grace was about 945 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, with maximum sustained winds near 30 miles per hour, and was moving towards the west at 17 miles per hour.
It is expected to become a remnant low or an open wave in the next day or two.