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BARBADIANS are tonight bracing for the impact of Tropical Storm Tomas.This season’s 19th named storm formed southeast of the Windward Islands earlier yesterday afternoon, taking the island’s emergency managers completely by surprise.As a result, shelters remained closed late into the evening and the advice that was sent by emergency chief, Judy Thomas, to Barbadians was to simply “ride out the storm at home or go to relatives and friends”.Thomas, in an interview on national radio shortly after the 8 p.m. intermediary advisory was issued also warned that the island could be significantly impacted by the storm, which at the time was packing maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour.Early indications were that central and eastern parishes in particular were being impacted by gusty winds.No loss of life or serious injury was initially reported but Cleaver’s Hill, St. Joseph resident Wendy Alleyne said she had lost a portion of her roof.It was around 3 p.m. yesterday that the first warning was given. Then came the official advisory two hours later.Many residents responded by rushing to supermarkets and gas stations for emergency supplies. It was also enough time for regional airline LIAT and international carrier American Airlines to announce several cancellations of flights.But Thomas, who is the Director of the Department of Emergency Management, said it was going to be “very difficult for us to mobilise the whole shelter system at this point”.“That is why we are asking people to make the determination to either ride it out at home or to go to relatives and friends which is something that we have always been advocating,” she said.The Department later announced the opening of Category One shelters.