Curaçao surprised by record downpour

WILLEMSTAD — A remitting rainfall of six hours caused great damage on Curaçao. The emergency service received almost 400 calls for assistance. Two lives were lost as well. The downpours were reason for the government to request the Royal Dutch Navy first for mild assistance, but later on also for intensive assistance.

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The tail of tropical storm Tomas caused tremendous downpour on Curaçao yesterday. For example in barely several hours, the rainfall at Sunset Heights measured 265 millimeters. During a briefing by the emergency bureau around noon, Premier Gerrit Schotte indicated that the rainfall in six hours equaled the amount of almost a whole year. The Meteorological Service indicated yesterday that the rainfall would measure between 50 and 80 millimeters during the afternoon hours. Meteorologist Fred Capello indicated this morning that eventually this became a multiple of the aforementioned. The meteorologist admitted that yesterday’s showers were much heavier that initially predicted.

Considerable inconvenience

These showers arose from the tail of Tomas. Two currents of wind from different directions met and this led to the formation of many clouds with lots of rain. As this system hung above Curaçao for hours yesterday, there were heavy downpours over the entire island between seven o’clock in the evening until around two-thirty in the morning. These showers caused considerable inconvenience. There were collapsed walls, flooded houses and business premises, fallen-down trees, and even two lives were lost. The schools remained closed today, and many companied were either not open or only partially open.
It continued to rain after two-thirty, although to a lesser degree. The moving away of Tomas to the west led to the formation of a new system that caused heavy rainfall during the morning hours again. This morning Capello predicted it would continue to rain the coming hours. However, the rainfall will not be as bad as last night. The meteorologist even pointed out that the showers will keep up the next days. The authorities received the first report last night at six fifty-five. Almost 400 calls were registered until noon today. Well over 70 percent of these 400 calls regarded flooding. At the twelve o’clock briefing, Schotte said there was no longer a question of life threatening situations. The reports received by the government will be dealt with in conformity with a priority list. The Mgr Verriet Institute, the SGR-group in Emmastad, old folks’ home Huize Emanuel in Schelpwijk experienced the most inconvenience and the Groot Davelaar area where both the Advent hospital and Trupial Inn Hotel had to be partly evacuated.
Two relief centers were also opened during the night hours, namely one in the DOW building at Parera and the other with the Red Cross at Suffisant.

Intensive assistance

The relief troops of the police, VKC, SKS and the Coastguard received assistance from the Dutch navy today. This occurred at the request of the Curaçao government. Initially, the government had submitted a request for mild assistance, which departs from mobilization and offering assistance. However, during the course of this morning, the government submitted a request for intensive assistance, which means that the navy – under supervision of the local politics – is deployed to maintain public order. Premier Schotte urged people to avoid the public roads if they did not have any urgent reason to be outdoors.