Panic gripped commuters and motorists yesterday when overnight rain coupled with prolonged early-morning showers caused flash flooding in Port-of-Spain and environs. The rainy weather was caused by Tropical Storm Isaac which is barrelling through the northern Caribbean and was heading for Haiti late yesterday evening. Less than two weeks ago, flood waters ravaged the Diego Martin community, causing two deaths and destroying infrastructure and property valued at more than $100 million. Areas affected yesterday were Diego Martin, Maraval, La Seiva; Richmond Street, City Gate and Charlotte Street in Port-of-Spain; Barataria, La Canoa Village, Santa Cruz; Mt Hololo in St Ann’s; Morvant Junction, and St Augustine. The East Dry River overflowed its banks while the Caroni River was near brink up to late yesterday. Hundreds of commuters were also stranded at City Gate, the transport hub in the capital city.
Away from Port-of-Spain, districts in Sangre Grande, Chaguanas, Siparia, Palo Seco, Cedros, Icacos and other areas were affected by heavy winds and flood waters. Roy Beharry, of Upper Neckles Street in Carenage, said his house was destroyed by landslips and his mother’s house was partially destroyed two weeks ago. “We live on the same lot, one house below and one on top. The landslide came and mash down her kitchen and the flood mash down my kitchen. Mr Rowley (MP for the area Dr Keith Rowley) and the councillor visited. They are helpful and I hope no more land will come down. “I am hoping that we get assistance very quickly. I don’t have funds for any labour and I will appreciate it much,” Beharry said. Debra Mitchell-Surge, of El Socorro Extension, said her roof was blown away by strong winds early yesterday morning. “I am waiting to go to work. My roof fly off. I don’t know what to do until I see the condition, but I have to reach work because it is my last day. I don’t know if to turn up or down,” Mitchell-Surge said. Works and Transport Minister Emmanuel George said the clearing-up process began swiftly yesterday morning. He had told people to stay in their homes until the water receded in an early-morning announcement in the electronic media. “I would like the Diego Martin residents and others to hold back from leaving their houses until the waters subside,” George said.
George said trees that fell during the strong winds were being cleared away in various areas such as along the Lady Young Road in Morvant. “All agencies are on alert if necessary and resources are ready,” he said. Head of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management, Dr Stephen Ramroop, said the crews cleared away the tree from the Lady Young Road and also cleaned up South Quay when the water subsided. He said a number of factors had contributed to the flooding in various communities. “We have expanded our drainage and developed the hills without regulation, so people grow crops, and the disposal of sewerage and waste comes in storm drains. These are not built to accommodate wastewater,” he said. Ramroop said there was a lot of debris and plastic containers in the flood waters as people were dumping garbage and rubbish in drains and water courses.
“There is a combination of factors. I am not surprised. Flooding is all over the world and there is increased flooding due to urban development at a rapid rate, and not paying attention to the strategic development of the land, in terms of collection ponds and dams and house water in separate channels,” George said.