Schools have been closed and all private and public sector workers in Dominica were sent home at noon, as the neighboring island braces for the passage of Tropical Storm Bret which is now barreling through the Eastern Caribbean with near-hurricane strength
Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in an early morning address to the nation that the early closure of businesses will allow residents, especially those living in the countryside to “make their way home and to do their final preparations. Now, all of these actions are geared at ensuring all citizens are safe”, he said
“We need to ensure we take proactive and preemptive actions. We should not wait for it to be elevated to a hurricane warning or hurricane watch for us to start acting up”
“We have seen what not only tropical storms have caused us in Dominica, but even troughs. Heavy rainfall has caused significant damage to properties in Dominica…and therefore, it’s important, absolutely important, that we all take from the community level, from the individual level, the necessary actions in preparation for this hurricane season,” Skerrit said
The prime minister assured residents that all of the systems have been activated and all resources are in place to carry out duties
“Our national response is absolutely important that we follow the advice, that comes from the Office of Disaster Management and also from the Met Office. And so I would like to urge again, those of us in the communities to go out and not only pay attention to our properties but also to the neighbors,” he said
The prime minister also advised residents to remove any hazards from their surroundings, including low-lying trees, blocked drains, and other debris.
“Let us be our neighbor’s keeper. Let us play our part. Even if the government systems are all in place and our systems at the local level, at the family level, and the business level are not in place, then we have some risk and therefore we need to mitigate against this risk by us taking the advice,” he said.
Tropical Storm Bet continues to make its way into the eastern Caribbean a tropical storm warning remains in effect for Martinique and Dominica.
These countries are at risk for heaving flooding, from heavy rainfall, strong winds, and dangerous waves along the coast within the warning area.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm is expected to be near hurricane strength (74 mph winds)
At its 11 a.m. update, Bret had sustained winds of as of 70 mph, with higher gusts.
Meanwhile, Skerrit said there will be a heightened security presence across Dominica during and after the passage of Tropical Storm Bret. He said the decision is in keeping with moves to preserve peace and prevent lawlessness.
all off-duty officers and special constables have been recalled to assist with security efforts.
Police will be patrolling communities before the storm and after as well.
“I will caution people from attempting any illegal activity. It will not be tolerated. We have learned lessons from the past and the police have factored this into their plan and I think we are in a much better position than the past,” Skerrit said
Meanwhile, a Hurricane Watch is in effect for St. Lucia, while a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique, Barbados, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines
According to the National Hurricane Center, At 2 pm, the center of Tropical Storm Bret was located near latitude 13.4 North, longitude 58.9 West.
Bret is moving toward the west near 14 mph (22 km/h) and this general motion with an increase in forward speed is expected during the next few days.
On the forecast track, the center of Bret is expected to move across the Lesser Antilles this evening and tonight, and then move westward across the eastern and central Caribbean Sea Friday and Saturday.
Maximum sustained winds remain near 65 mph (100 km/h) with higher gusts.