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Rain brings havoc for Belmont residents

Published: 
Saturday, August 16, 2014
A woman takes her chances as she wades through the flood water at the corner of Broadway and South Quay, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. PHOTOs: KRISTIAN DE SILVA

After yesterday’s downpour, for the first time in 40 years the residents of Gloster Lodge Road, Gonzales, experienced flooding. Parts of downtown Port-of-Spain also flooded. Leon De Freitas said he had been living in the area for over 20 years and had never before experienced anything like it. He said the water rose to about three feet and forced its way into his yard and his neighbour’s. 

With no place for the rising waters to escape, the wall separating his home from his neighbour’s collapsed. He said had he not responded sooner the damage could have been worse. As it was, he had to hold on to two 40-pound gas tanks that were floating away, while his neighbour had to move his car as the water was dragging it down the road. De Freitas’ next-door neighbour, who said she did not want to be “in the news,” said her three dogs, Max, Bella and Ginger, almost drowned when the water came down. 

De Freitas said that the length of time the rain fell and the narrow drains were the two chief causes of the flooding, since there was no new development taking place on the hills that could account for the flood. Higher up the hill at Lange Street, David Terrence said he bailed out water for close to two hours, and his home was still flooded when the T&T Guardian arrived around 4 pm. He said roadworks done outside his home contributed to the floods, as workmen clogged the drains with empty cement bags. 

Further up the hill at Jubilee Crescent, Fitzherbert Phillips said he had lived there for the past 34 years and had never experienced flooding before. Phillips, a father of ten, said he had to make two holes two feet wide at the base of his home so that some of the water could escape.

Mayor: Plans in the works
In a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Port-of-Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee said there were plans underway to end flooding in the capital for good. He said he was not able to divulge what they were but they “would make the nation smile.” Last November, the Government announced a US$120 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank, to help with a flood alleviation plan for the capital city.

Tim Kee said he was not sure what became of previous plans to alleviate flooding by pumping the water directly into the sea or through the construction of storm drains. He said the flooding was nothing new and was linked to the high tide, which impeded the runoff into the sea. Tim Kee, along with councillors Hillan Morean and Janelle Young, visited the affected residents, promising relief. 

The T&T Guardian saw a truck transporting people through the floodwaters which reached an estimated depth of two feet in several parts of the city. At Independence Square, dead cockroaches were seen sprawled along the sidewalk and people navigated around them to get away from the flood. Others were seen taking photographs of the murky water.