Residents traumatised after ‘tornado-like’ winds ripped off rooftops, electricity poles


Heavy winds and rainfall, described as a freak storm, damaged buildings and other infrastructure at the Plantation Hope and Experiment Villages on the West Coast Berbice (WCB) on Friday night. Residents say they are still trying to come to grips with the ordeal.

When the News Room visited the area on Saturday, many residents were attempting to salvage parts of their houses.

Missing zinc sheets, lost to the freak storm

In the aftermath of the storm, 26-year-old Gomattie Pariag, a resident, said that she is still trying to regain her composure after such an experience.

Pariag, who resides at Lot 322 Plantation Hope, told the News Room that it was the first time her family had such an experience and she is hoping it will be the last.

According to her, at around 22:00 hrs, she and her husband and two children felt some “trembling and vibration.” This caused them to jump out of bed and peek through the windows.

And what they saw was an unimaginable sight.

“Yuh seeing something literally spinning, we are at the seaside and the spinning come through from the bush so it come out and it spin and catch the first house that’s on that corner before it reach into the village itself and the man house there, his whole rooftop come off,” the woman recalled.

Soon the storm was closer to her home.

“…my windows, the bedroom deh right at the end so when this thing just coming, this thing just rattling the windows and I was hollering for my husband and telling him the windows will pop,” the woman said.

And she described what she saw as similar to that of a tornado with what appeared to be a vortex but smaller.

“I thought the rain was going to bore through the roof.”

The family also witnesses the roofs of other nearby houses collapse. And as both the winds and accompanying rainfall intensified, the house of an elderly man, located opposite the Pariags, collapsed.

Several electricity poles were damaged

Pariag said worry consumed her and she began calling out for the man – “old bai, old bai” – hoping that he was not trapped inside.

Soon after, Pariag’s husband ventured outside to check on the old man’s safety.

As he was making his way to the house, Pariag said a neighbour called the family and said that the old man had escaped unhurt and was staying in her (the neighbour’s) house.

Pariag remembered feeling some semblance of relief, knowing that the man was safe. Even so, though, she still was worried for her family and others.

After some time, the winds and rain had eased up and she took her two children into her bedroom and they managed to get some rest.

On Saturday morning, Pariag and her neighbours decided to check on those who were affected and ensure that they were alright. In fact, she said that she was so engaged in ensuring the wellbeing of others that she did not realise the extent of the damage at her property.

“…We were so busy with neighbours dem I didn’t even see at the back by me. This morning when I wake up, I see the whole storeroom just blow away in the next yard so it was bad, then we had two light pole break and just the wire was holding them up, that was not far from me,” she said.

Approximately eight houses were affected Friday night at Plantation Hope with nearly a dozen damaged at Experiment. There are no reported injuries.

Officials from the Regional Democratic Council of Region Five, including Regional Chairman Vickchand Ramphal, Vice Chairman Rion Peters and Member of Parliament Faizal Jaffarally, visited the villages on Saturday. They pledged their aid in any way they can to help fix the damage incurred.

Additionally, electrical poles that were ripped from the base were also being repaired by teams from the Guyana Power and Light (GPL).
In a Facebook post, the Region Five RDC noted that the relevant authorities, including the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), had been contacted.

The situation is still being assessed.

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