Floodwater too deep for vehicles to pass from Major Hill to Bottle Creek
The Windsor area at Bottle Creek
Emergency measures to counter a leaking roof at an airport restroom
Premier Rufus Ewing’s administration has rushed to respond to close to 12 inches of rainfall from Tropical Storm Cristobal over the weekend that resulted in widespread flooding in Providenciales and North Caicos.
Extensive flooding has been reported in several areas of Providenciales, including the downtown area, which as of Monday morning remained inaccessible from both South Dock and Blue Hills.
Ewing issued a public statement late on Sunday urging residents to take every precaution for life and property and remain indoors as far as possible.
“I am cautioning all citizens to be safe and to remain indoors as much as possible, as we continue to experience heavy rains, wind gusts and extensive flooding in low lying areas, especially on the islands of Middle and North Caicos,” he said.
Flooding from the storm hit the major island of Providenciales but has also severely impacted the island of North Caicos.
The government responded Sunday by opening up a shelter in the settlement of Kew, North Caicos, to help residents cope with the flooding if their homes were compromised.
Although, the premier urged residents to stay indoors, motorists were out on the roads surveying the damage caused by the floods across the islands. Pictures poured in on social media on Sunday depicting a drenched country. The entire King Road from Bottle Creek to the airport and the road leading into the settlement of Kew were completely flooded.
According to Ewing, the rain is expected to linger and last another day or so. He also announced that government departments are out surveying the damage and will update the public in due course.
“Government officials of the Department of Disaster Management will be surveying our communities when it is safe to do so and ensuring all is well in due course but I ask that you continue to listen to the local radio and television stations and the social media for updates,” he said.
Of major concern to the government will be the airport, which has come in for massive criticism from the public, who have complained about the failure of the new structure to withstand a typical annual downpour. Additionally, with the rise in sea levels, the state of beach erosion on Grace Bay will be of paramount concern, as passing storms have caused severe erosion in recent years.
Public concern has also been expressed about the ability of the already damaged causeway linking Middle Caicos with North Caicos, which was largely washed away during Hurricane Hanna in 2008 and is yet to be repaired. Currently there is no pavement on the causeway leaving the earthen roadbed vulnerable to heavy rainfall.
Deputy Governor Anya Williams issued a statement on Monday morning saying that all pumps throughout Providenciales are in operation and Government Support Services (GSS) staff have been working throughout the weekend on these areas.
However, as it will take some time for the pumps to resolve the flooding issues in these areas, especially the downtown area, Williams asked staff in Butterfield Square and the Sam Harvey Building not to report to work until an all clear has been given.
The TCI Bankers Association also issued a statement to the effect that all banks would be closed on Monday.
Meanwhile, at 8:00 am EDT on Monday, the centre of Tropical Storm Cristobal was forecast to move away from the Bahamas during the day. Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 60 mph, with higher gusts.
Strong gusty winds are possible over portions of the southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands on Monday.