All Schools to Remain Closed, Public Servants Sent Home as More Rain Expected
Crews from the Public Works Department and the Montserrat Utilities Ltd are this morning working to reopen roads and restore water to some communities after a night of heavy rains.
A massive thunder and lightning storm, the severity of which some residents said they have not experienced in decades, brought numerous landslides to areas across the island.
PWD Director Rawlson Patterson said the priority was cleaning up the St. Peter’s area. The Cheap End road was closed to traffic as it was impassable from tree limbs, mud and other debris in the road. The upper two-way road had multiple landslides, turning it into a one-way road as large rocks were brought down from the hillside.
Belham Valley is impassable and residents in the Isles Bay area are asked to call the DMCA at 491-7166 if they have an emergency.
There are also areas in Barzey’s which are impassable as well.
Early Tuesday morning, officials decided to cancel classes for the Montserrat Secondary School as the access to the property was hindered with large rocks and mud down to the main road. The St. Augustine Primary School and Montserrat Community College were also remaining closed Tuesday. MCC officials said the campus was fine but there was no running water due to damage caused in nearby Salem during last night’s storm.
Parts of Salem and Isles Bay were out of water after major flooding in the area damaged lines. The utility company was working to restore water to residents and businesses there.
Governor Andy Pearce reversed an earlier announcement that government offices and public schools would be open as normal after updates revealed more rain is expected later today with the island under a Flash Flood Watch. Pearce said on ZJB Radio that the utility crews also would be able to accomplish more if the roads remained clear of traffic.
The Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA) said following the completion of a damage assessment of the island’s roads from Salem to Look Out by the Disaster Management Coordination Agency and the Public Works Department, a Flash Flood Watch issued for Montserrat by the Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Services, the possibility of further landslides, rockfalls and flooding, the already saturated nature of the soil and the Public Works Department not being able to complete clearing of the road works island-wide; the Government of Montserrat has taken a decision to close all schools and government offices with immediate effect.
Persons are asked to stay put to allow the Public Works Department to clear all roads and also due to the possibility of further rockfalls, landslides and flooding.
A further update will be given later today.
A Flash Flood Watch means that moderate to major flooding is possible but not imminent in the watch area. Residents in low lying and flood prone areas should make preparations for flooding to safeguard life and property. The should be prepared to move to higher ground if flooding rains develop or a flash flood warning is issued.
According to the Antigua & Barbuda Meteorological Office “an area of disturbed weather in combination with a Southeasterly wind flow, aided by a moist environment and critical upper level support, favors the formation of moderate to heavy precipitation over the Leewards and BVI later today and into tonight.
“Already, up to four inches of rain have fallen in some places in the last 12 hours and another three or more inches is possible in the next 24 hours. Residents are advised that the watch could be upgraded to warning at short notice.”