RESIDENTS, business owners, families and schoolchildren were trying to get back to normal life today in the wake of a major thunderstorm and record downpours which deluged Nassau, wrecking property, closing schools and leaving homeowners stranded.
It was the first test this year of New Providence’s readiness for severe weather, putting emergency services, the Bahamas Meteorological Department and the National Emergency Management Agency under the spotlight.
At some points, as the winds rose and the rain fell, it was reminiscent of the early stages of a hurricane with the government even opening shelters for residents. Businesses were also hit in Downtown Nassau.
Some called into question the apparent speed of the agencies’ response, the reason why children were sent to school to sit exams only and called again for better drainage systems across New Providence.
The Tribune can confirm the first weather advisory was sent at noon on Tuesday, with severe weather warnings sent by the Met Department at 3.15pm, 6pm, 7.15pm, 9.15pm and 11.45pm. Rain started to fall at 3.07pm and a light storm started at 6.21pm. The heavy thunderstorm started at 7.14pm. Rainfall amounts were skewered toward the East, which received a larger amount. Camperdown got 15.29 inches of rainfall, with 12.79 inches in Elizabeth Estates.
Over the 24-hour period, 4.35 inches of rainfall was recorded across New Providence. Records show that between 1981 and 2010 an average 4.54 inches was recorded for May. So far this May, 5.74 inches has been recorded - making it a record figure.
BEC said it had to ‘de-energize’ some areas within Pinewood Gardens and Nassau East North where electrical outlets/receptacles within some homes were affected by excessive flooding: Jacaranda east of Wild Guava, East and West on Cottonwood, Jacaranda, Rosewood and Cascarilla East of Geranium.
The Ministry of Education advised that due to excessive flooding only New Providence students sitting national examinations were to report to school. All other students had to remain at home. Schools were due to re-open today.
The Oakes Field and Grosvenor Campuses of The College of The Bahamas, including Chapter One Bookstore and the Harry C. Moore Library and Information Centre, were closed and all classes cancelled. The college was expected to resume normal operations today.
The inaugural Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic was reduced to 54 holes and will begin play tomorrow. Play is cancelled for today and the golf course will continue to be closed to spectators until Friday, after it was hit by 11 inches of rain.
“The damage to the golf course and structures caused by Tuesday’s heavy rain and winds was extensive and we are working around the clock to repair damages and drain the golf course so that we can present a first-class event for the LPGA, Pure Silk and the people of the Bahamas,” said Matt Truax, tournament director for Global Golf Management.
The Spurs v Jamaica soccer game was due to go ahead today as scheduled.
As well as the many homeowners hit by the storm, businesses were affected.
The Atlantis road tunnel was blocked late on Tuesday, with people attending an LPGA cocktail party forced to abandon there cars.
Ed Fields, Atlantis spokesman, said yesterday: “No damage was found. The tunnel was blocked during the heavy rainfall from last evening to this morning but is clear now. Some minor leaking occurred but is being addressed. We are currently working on getting the golf course ready.
Meteorologist Wayne Neely said there was no correlation between the severe weather and an active hurricane season, although he added: “We do forecast an above average hurricane season with nineteen major storms expected to be in the region.”
A frontal boundary was expected to affect the extreme northwest Bahamas by late Friday. Today is expected to be partly sunny and warm, turning fair tonight.