|Late-season storm blows by TCI|
Residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands breathed a sigh of relief when they awoke Saturday after being spared any major repercussions of Hurricane Tomas.
Local communities, residents and business owners were on full alert Friday after being warned that a late season hurricane could be coming their way. With memories of Hurricane Hanna and Ike still lingering for most, the threat was enough to push everyone into overdrive, being safe rather than sorry.
Immediately taking action by boarding up windows and getting rid of debris, the islands quickly prepared themselves for the worst.
His Excellency the Gov. Gordon Wetherell called on the U.K.’s Royal Navy to lend additional support to the country when it was predicted the eye would be passing over the most heavily populated island of Providenciales.
“The Royal Navy ship HMS Manchester and the supply vessel Wave Ruler are currently making their way to the TCI. They should arrive off the coast of Providenciales tomorrow morning. HMS Manchester will provide immediate aerial reconnaissance of the islands and stand ready with her crew to provide any further emergency support and assistance that may be required,” the governor said in a statement sent out to media at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 5.
Fortunately, Tomas was a breeze compared to other major storms the islands have experienced in recent years.
Resorts and tourist attractions got back to business quickly Saturday, acknowledging Tomas’ bark was much bigger than his bite. One business owner summed up the sentiment with this message sent to clients Saturday morning — “Since Pooh Bear got more gusts on a very windy day in the 100-acre wood than we did from Tomas, classes are on for today.”
Although the airport was closed Nov. 5 as a precaution, local and international airlines resumed their regular schedules Nov. 6.
Wetherell sent out the message before 2 p.m. on Nov. 6 that after aerial assessments of the islands thanks to the helicopter support provided by HMS Manchester and from district commissioners and others on the ground, “I am pleased to report that we have come through Hurricane Tomas with no serious damage.”
The governor paid special tribute to all those in the Disaster Management team, the police, the Red Cross shelter managers, and to the many other volunteers who contributed their time and effort to ensuring that the country was well prepared for the storm.
“My sincere thanks also go to the Commanding Officers and crews of HMS Manchester and Wave Ruler who, I know, endured a very uncomfortable night at sea to reach Providenciales at first light to render any assistance that we might need,” he said.
He also shared his thanks to the people of the TCI for the way in which they responded to the advice and information which was provided and took all the appropriate measures to keep themselves and their families safe, and to secure their homes and businesses.
“We are truly fortunate that we escaped this hurricane in light of all of our resorts operating fully, and we are happy to report that all of our guests are safe and sound,” said Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association’s President Karen Whitt.