Dominica’s ONLY Storm of the 2013 Season: Chantal makes a serious pass!

Foreboding skies signaled the start of Tropical Chantal's pass through Dominica.

Foreboding skies signaled the start of Tropical Chantal’s pass through Dominica.

After Tropical Storm Chantal quickly blew through Dominica and other  Eastern Caribbean islands on Tuesday July 9th, everyone breathed a collective sigh of  relief that no lives were lost and that the damage was generally minor.  On the Nature Island, the southern areas were most adversely affected by high winds, with downed trees, branches, utility wires and a few missing roofs.

While I was safe in my apartment, I did experience a few heart-stopping moments. But at the end of the day, God is good and all is well.  It seems that the storm passed without incident on islands further south, including tiny Bequia in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  You can read friend and Canadian author Susan Toy’s report and view her videos of Chantal here. 

Interestingly, the south side of Chantal dished out lots of rain, where on my northerly end of her, fierce winds that gusted up to 100 kilometers per hour kept me glancing out the windows when I heard a branch crack or an unknown entity crash to the ground.

The day started calmly enough: I drank my tea and read my morning meditations  on the porch while gazing down at Roseau, the

View of Roseau before the storm.  The brown water (centre) is cominig from the muoth of the Roseau River.  It must have been raining already in the mountains!

View of Roseau before the storm. The brown water (centre) is coming from the mouth of the Roseau River. It must have rained already in the mountains!

From myvantage point, Roseau was shrouded in rain during the passage of Chantal.

From my vantage point, Roseau was shrouded in rain during the passage of Chantal.

pretty capital, as usual. I had cleared almost everything off of the outside living areas the previous evening.  What remained to be removed was a barricade that  I had erected to  prevent my 15 & 1/2 year old  senior indoor cat from escaping into the bushes and unknown dangers. I went inside to check the weather report online, when all-of-a-sudden I heard a sound as the first blast of wind hit the house.  Something fell down on the porch.  I ran to look and was horrified to discover that the force had knocked down my

Tia is a playful, adventurous pussycat at the best of times.  Painting by American artist and friend Susan Weeks.

Tia is a playful, adventurous pussy cat at the best of times. Painting by American artist and friend Susan Weeks.

barricade – and Tia the cat was GONE!

In a near panicked state, I called the vet, explained what happened and asked her what to do!  She first told me to calm down (but I didn’t).  She asked if he had eaten – I said “no’!  She tried to reassure me that he would return and was just exploring . If he didn’t come back soon, she would send her husband, who is also a vet and animal whisperer (if you ask me) to help me look for him.  I quickly dressed in long pants and boots to go into the bushes, while I called his name over and over. But that did last long.  Between one moment and the next, the heavens opened up wide.  It felt as if a huge never-emptying bucket of water was being dumped on my head.  In one minute, I was soaked to the skin.  The winds began to howl in a serious way and I had to abandon my search!  I headed up the front stairs to see that the door had slammed shut.  When I opened it, I noticed that the back door was still open. I was ready to howl louder than the wind, when  Tia appeared in front of me – a little damp, but none the worse for wear!  At first I thought I was a hallucinating!  He must have been near the back stairs and then bolted up them when the deluge began.  I was thanking the Almighty profusely when I called the vet to extend gratitude for her support during those few moments of dire stress!  From the point on, Tia hid under the bed for the entire day!

It`s hard to dstinguish between the coconut tree and the utility pole! The tree is leaning in to the wires - and with one more gust of wind...

It`s hard to distinguish between the coconut tree and the utility pole! The tree is leaning in to the wires – and with one more gust of wind…

But that wasn’t the end of my worries :when I had started to search for the cat, the downstairs tenants poked their heads out for a moment and drew my attention to a tall coconut palm tree that was leaning heavily on the utility wires nearby!  If they came down, we would have a very serious problem.  I immediately called the electricity company, but of course my complaint was probably one of hundreds that they received that morning.  The power was already out in my area and I shut off the main switch to be extra safe.

The rain hammered the earth a while before the pounding wind took over!

The rain hammered the earth a while before the pounding wind took over!

From then on, I entertained myself by listening to an extended talk show on a popular local station with my little battery-operated radio.  I was able to hear updates about Chantal and reports  of damages and experiences from people who called in  from around the island .  I was keen to take a few pictures.  I tried to open my doors a few times,  but the wind created tremendous resistance and I decided not to tempt fate. Instead, I opened a window on the calm side and stuck my arms out around the burglar bars with camera in hand.  You can see that I got a few shots!

In the early afternoon, soft music played on the radio and sky turned dark as night.  I periodically checked the precarious angle of the coconut tree as it pulsed against the wires.  I read for a while on the couch and dozed off for an hour or so.  I awoke to stillness about 4 p.m., peeked outside and assumed that the worst was over.

There were  a few moments when the sun did try to overpower the storm!

There were a few moments when the sun did try to overpower the storm!

The waves were rought - but thankfully only for a little while!

The waves were rough – but thankfully only for a little while!

About an hour later, the power came back on so I was up and running electronically again!  Just to be on the safe side, I decided to wait until the morning before putting anything back on my outside porches.  Around 8 p.m., I had just climbed out of a warm shower when the phone rang.  It was a worker from the electricity company.  He asked for directions to the problematic tree, as he was in the area and wanted to make a survey  for removal of it the following day.  He and his crew did arrive minutes later, and did declare this situation to be urgent.  As I write this, no-one has appeared to cut down the offending tree, which he did consider an emergency.  I realize there are problems of this nature all over the island.  No doubt, it will be removed in “a while”, as they say on Dominica.  I just hope it is before the next storm!

The cat barricade is back up and Tia has been studying it with longing.  I don’t think he can get over it.  But he has weathered a few other storms outdoors.  I’ll save those stories for another day!  But if you want a refresher on one of my previous weather challenges, you can read this!

In the mean time, this  tropical storm seems to be fading away further north, so perhaps will not cause damage elsewhere.  I only hope that if (or when) the next cyclone makes its way across the Atlantic, it will be no more troublesome than Chantal!

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6 comments on “Dominica’s ONLY Storm of the 2013 Season: Chantal makes a serious pass!

  1. Glad to hear that all is well with you, Gwen! Thanks for linking to my blog post!

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  2. lizziemad says:

    I flew out just in time. Arrived in London on Monday to glorious weather. Glad everyone, including Tia, is safe.

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  3. Good to hear that you and Tia are safe and well. Let’s hope that the rest of the hurricane season passes without incident. Summer in the Netherlands seems quite dull in comparison!

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    • gwendominica says:

      Jenny, great to hear from you! Tia says ‘Meow’ to his dear Auntie. I hear the Crapaud frogs every night and hope you’ll come back to Dominica to see all of us someday soon!

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