Dropping the Ball In Bad Weather

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‘Shopping that normally happens over the course of about a week took place in one day – Tuesday June 28, 2022’


By Neela Ramsundar

MERE days ago, we exhaled a long breath of relief after Potential Cyclone #2  slipped between the “and” in Trinidad and Tobago, sparing both islands from the worst possible devastation she could have unleashed.

While we weren’t completely spared, many citizens complained bitterly about the authorities ramping up panic and sending out a “false alarm”.

In my opinion, the frustration citizens felt was not so much because of a “false alarm”. It was their combined failure to recognise Trinbagonian patterns of doing things in this country:

  • How we shop;
  • How we panic;
  • The total lack of support during the anticipated traffic gridlock etc.; and
  • How we strategise accordingly to reduce the stress levels and frustration that would naturally ensue.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had an approaching storm. It was close to the end of the month. People were waiting on their salaries to come in to head over to the grocery to restock their pantries.

Coincidentally, this is exactly when the potential cyclone (turning into Tropical Storm Bonnie after it passed T&T) decided to show up. Shopping that normally happens over the course of about a week took place in one day – Tuesday June 28, 2022. There were long lines to get into groceries, long lines to cash, hoarding of vital supplies and empty shelves. Frustration was at an all-time high.


What could the authorities have done? First, they dropped the ball when they lacked the foresight to declare ahead of time that all business, both private and public, be closed on Tuesday. There was no directive aimed at private businesses. Because of this, entities such as Prestige Holdings’ KFC, felt the brunt of social media, when they received level complaints about the 6 pm adjusted closing hour due to the storm. They moved the closing time to 4 pm, but many still complained it was not good enough. I agree. The storm was forecast to start affecting the islands from 6 pm which left those workers little time to get home, much less pick up any necessities at the supermarket.

I anticipate public servants on the other hand would have felt stressed going to work on Tuesday, not knowing until around noon that all non-essential services would be closed. Even this directive was ambiguous! Which service was essential and which was non-essential?

Secondly, the authorities should have had the foresight to deploy police and even the defence force to assist with the expected massive traffic gridlock. Half the country was on the roads trying to stock up and prepare. The overall aim should have been to ease the stress that the authorities should have known the citizenry would experience. Thank goodness no fights for low supplies broke out in supermarkets or road rage occurred on the streets!

Then the Trinidad authorities dropped the ball when they issued a school closure notice for Tuesday, but at an hour when parents and students alike would likely be asleep (around 11 pm). At least the Tobago authorities had the foresight to issue such a notice for Tobago schools while the parties would normally be awake.


The potential tropical cyclone #2 decided to show at a time when students were in the middle of end of term exams. The Trinidad authorities could have done better to reduce the stress levels of stakeholders. They should have gone so far as joining Tobago in closing schools on Wednesday to give them a breather.

It moved away from T&T to become a deadly category 1 hurricane in Central America. At least 1 person was killed in El Salvador and 2 in Nicaragua. The US National Hurricane Centre recorded maximum sustained winds of 125 kilometres per hour.

T&T definitely dodged a bullet, and for that reason, I do not agree the authorities and weather forecasters caused unnecessary panic. But definitely, the powers that be need to step up their game when the next storm comes. It’s really not rocket science. Be safe Trinidad and Tobago!

Copyright © 2022 Neela Ramsundar, LL.B (HONS), L.E.C

Civil Litigation Attorney at Law & Certified Mediator.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general informational purposes only and/or contain the opinions and/or thoughts of the writer only. It does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader. For legal advice on your specific situation, please contact an Attorney-at-Law of your choosing directly. Liability for any loss or damage of any kind whatsoever allegedly incurred as a consequence of relying on content in this article is thus hereby excluded to the fullest extent permitted by law.


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