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New floods hamper South clean-up efforts

Published: 
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Thunderstorms yesterday hindered clean-up operations in parts of South and East Trinidad, bringing with it more flood waters.

A Meteorological Service bulletin that warned of an active tropical wave east of the islands also caused more fear for citizens, especially those living in Woodland, Mayaro and Manzanilla where water levels were still between four and six-feet high.

Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government senior disaster coordinator Rishi Siew said while flood levels in most affected areas had subsided, water levels were still rising in Barrackpore and Penal, while there were flash floods in Claxton Bay and San Fernando. He said all 14 regional corporations were feverishly cleaning up but the approaching tropical wave will pose a challenge.

“As long as the corporations keep with the process we’ve put in place we will get through as quickly as possible. The tropical wave will delay us a bit in terms of cleaning as the water levels rises again,” Siew told the T&T Guardian.

Siparia Regional Corporation chairman Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh said just as Woodland residents were optimistic when water levels dropped, the reports of more rains to come was frightening. He said residents still have to depend on charity groups and the corporation to supply them with meals daily as many, especially the elderly, have been trapped in their homes since last Thursday.

Shelters have been set up in the various communities, but Siew said people prefer to stay in their homes.

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said crews have also been deployed to clear watercourses, but noted the work is dependant on the weather conditions.

At Mosquito Creek, South Oropouche, where additional pumps were sent to clear the Southern Main Road, water accumulated again. Sinanan said the massive flooding over the weekend was due to a blocked channel, which has since been cleared.

He said there were no measures that could have been implemented to mitigate the flooding over the past week, noting the amount of rainfall from Divali into the weekend was equivalent to a month’s worth of rain. He said all the ministry could do now was ensure all watercourses remain clear, which must be an ongoing process.

Going forward, he said previous studies on floods and drainage will be reviewed. However, he said it was known for decades that certain low lying areas would always flood. He explained that many of the areas where water would settle in years gone by were replaced with houses, shopping malls and businesses, resulting in the water having to find new areas to flow.

“If you look at Woodland, that area would have usually retained water in heavy downpours. Now, these areas are developed and this is the challenge we face throughout Trinidad. With the volume of water we got in the last few days, the channels just could not handle it and there were spillovers,” Sinanan said.