“Songshine was a kind of miracle. I was lucky enough to be part of making it happen.” — Gillian Moor
Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) CEO Dr Stephen Ramroop says the bush fires occurring in T&T are a symptom of climate change and drought and will result in heavy flooding during the coming rainy season. “A heavy occurrence of bush fires will mean heavy flooding,” said Ramroop in an interview yesterday.
The ODPM is functioning as part of the National Operations Centre (NOC) and has been monitoring and co-ordinating the response to the fires which ravaged hillsides in St Ann’s, Maraval, Diego Martin and more recently Tunapuna. Ramroop said he was not surprised by the bush fires. “The real problem we are expecting is drought because of climate change and that means an increased susceptibility to fires.
“Then, if bush fires clear out the vegetation on the hillside, we will have problems in the rainy season with washing away of the surface material, landslides and flooding.” Ramroop said, however, that the Government was preparing for droughts. “In the past three years the ODPM has increased emergency water supplies by 40 per cent. We have met with the Environment Ministry and the Environmental Management Authority and are in discussions for a National Emergency Water Management policy.”
Numerous international studies have predicted that the Caribbean region would experience increased flooding and droughts as an effect of climate change. For over a week, fire officers have been battling fires in hills of west Trinidad. Yesterday, they said the fires were under control. Deputy chief fire officer Rodulf Bruce told the Guardian that the fires happening this year had not yet reached the level of intensity as experienced in 2010 and in 1987.
Bruce, who has responsibility for the Northern Division, said his officers were working hard to put out the fires. “We have had a very active season but 1987 and 2010 were really a lot more hectic for fire officers,” Bruce said. “We have the fire in St Ann’s under control. “It has been put out and lasted five days but we still see smoke coming from areas in Diego Martin.” Bruce said fire officers were on the ground dealing with the situation.