Saturday , December 2 2023

Press release from Saba Government Information Service about the thunderstorm

Saba Government Information Service                    December 26, 2013
Saba Inundated by Heavy Rains, Hail reported in some areas of the island.
Heavy rains caused extensive problems on the island of Saba, particularly on roads and to the local communications network, during the afternoon and evening hours of December 23, just ahead of Christmas celebrations.  Unofficial totals estimate that between 6-8 inches, approximately one fifth of the island’s annual rainfall total, fell in just over 6 hours. The island’s roads were completely awash in rapidly flowing streams of water.
Residents of Windwardside and in the higher elevations of Hell’s Gate, reported that at one point during the storm they were some loud noises on their roof, which were inconsistent with the sound of rain, and after further investigation it proved to be hail. Some persons tried to retrieve pieces for photo documentation, but this was not possible because it melted quickly in the accompanying rain. Crops at the Organoponics farm were also damaged due to the hail. While hail has fallen on the island in the past, it is an extremely rare occurrence.
The tremendous amount of rainfall caused quite an amount of rocks and other debris to be washed onto the roads. In one area, Hell’s Gate Guts, where the island’s soil landfill is located, became so saturated due to the rains that it was almost completely washed away to its original state since it was put in use some 40 years ago.
Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, who remained continually updated of developments during the storm said that immediately after rains had subsided that night, the Department of Public Works and the Police Department made an assessment of the situation and had some of the rocks and debris removed from key areas so that they would not inhibit the flow of traffic.
The following morning, December 24, personnel of the Department of Public Works and Sanitation worked throughout the day to ensure that all the main roads were cleared of rocks and other debris.  Saba Roads, Petcon, Big Rock Engineering, and Louis Colorado also assisted with manpower and machinery in the clean up.
Local telephone company, SATEL received extensive damage to their switches and landline network.   Telcell N.V. also experienced substantial damage to their mobile network, however coverage to some areas has been restored with more to come online soon. This damage was caused by lightning strikes to their equipment during the thunderstorm.
SATEL is currently working with their partners from EUTEL on St. Eustatius and SMITCOMS and UTS on St. Maarten to source replacement parts that will enable them to have landlines and the long distance service back up and running in the shortest possible time frame.  Some equipment has already been received from Eutel. UTS St. Maarten has been very valuable to SATEL in providing the necessary technical assistance and material parts.  At this point, Satel’s management reported, that it is difficult to give a clear indication when the landlines will be become operational but all efforts are being made to restore communication.  Telcell and Chippie are also working together to determine how mobile service can also be restored for Telcell customers.
The local electricity provider, Saba Electrical Company, did not experience any power outages but the workers were on stand-by, assessing the situation.
On behalf of the Executive Council, Island Governor Johnson said “We are grateful that the damage caused by the storm was only material and our thoughts and prayers are with our Caribbean brothers and sisters who lost their lives due to the rains the last few days.”
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  1. Let me take this opportunity to thank the Governor for at least sharing this with the community so as to let the outside world know of the real situation that we have experienced here on the island with the passing of that unnamed storm. The only little mistake in the story is regarding the electricity. Saba Electric Company is not yet in operation until January 1st 2014. The crew of NV. GEBE was out monitoring the situation. Good stuff.

  2. thanks to everyone who was helping during the storm. unsung heros are so special and you know who you are!!!!!

  3. I really would like to thank especially the guys from Satel (and of course GEBE and Public Works) on Saba for spending their whole Christmas and other holi-days to fix the phone and internet system on Saba. Carl, Steve, Tim and Jennifer did a great job. Even if not all is working perfect by now but at least we got most of the basics back. That’s commitment! Thanks.