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Brace for more floods

Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Danger from Bret not over yet—Met Office
An aerial image of flooding in Debe, yesterday. PHOTO COURTESY VERN TEEKASINGH

Tropical Storm Bret has come and gone, leaving in its path a trail of destruction across the country.

Brett also indirectly claimed the life of 40-year-old construction worker Andy Manyair, who died when he feel to his death after slipping on a makeshift bridge as he tried to run through the heavy rains to get to his home. (See other story)

No other deaths or injuries were reported in the wake of Bret.

But as today dawns the Met Office is warning of more rain and riverine flooding, which means that many communities already battling the ravages of Bret will continue to feel the impact of a storm which is no more.

Riverine flooding is more prolonged and widespread in comparison to street and flash flooding, according to the Met Office. It said although water levels in the primary Caroni river remain contained, “the threat is still high” and data from the Water Resources Agency indicates that “water levels in the nation’s major rivers are approaching threshold levels as a result of expected run-off from the current rainfall.”

Further rainfall activity is forecast with accumulations of 20-30 millimetres, and the possibility of rivers over flowing according to the met office is “real and imminent.”

Citizens in general, and those residing in the Caroni River Basin in particular, are asked to be on the alert for rising river levels and possible overspill.

There have been reports of high level flooding in areas such as: Penal Rock Road, Penal Mohess Road, Penal Debe, Barrackpore -Papourie, Enterprise – Chaguanas, Caparo and the Mosquito Creek Road and people commuting to and from these areas have been advised to find alternative routes if possible and to proceed with extreme caution.

As clean-up operations continue today, those most affected by Bret are living in fear that more showers could spell further disaster for them.

Penal/Debe, Mayaro, Princes Town Moruga and Carapo, were all under flood waters yesterday and with riverine flood warnings in effect, it may be some days yet before any semblance of normalcy is restored.

Many affected are praying for some sunshine in place of the rain, which continued to pound the land long after Bret had made its way from Trinidad to Venezuela yesterday.

(See pages A5, A6, A7 & A10)

Ramrajee Chance a pregnant mother of five from Sunrees Road in Penal told the Guardian that she and her children spent fourteen hours under a table watching their clothes and food wash away by the onslaught of Bret.

In Moruga and Princes town there were reports of fallen trees and roofs being blown off homes.

Yet still, shelters set up for use were under-utilised as many preferred to battle the elements and do what they could to salvage anything they could.

Ministerial tours and visits by opposition parliamentarians brought only small relief to those battling the ravages of the storm.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley who was in Tobago when Bret hit, issued a message thanking those who had worked “tirelessly to prepare us for the storm’s passage and those who continue to render assistance to those who still require help.”

Among those whom he felt were in need of special commendation were the Office of Disaster Preparedness (ODPM), under the Ministry of National Security, for its management of the preparation and its continued efforts to coordinate relief for those who have been adversely affected by the storm. That preparedness, he said, was evident as they skilfully and professionally managed the threat of the tropical storm.

Rowley also praised the T&T Meteorological Service for the “vital role” they played “in the effort to minimise the negative effects of the storm, by working with the ODPM and dispensing timely information and updates to ensure the safety of people, property and livestock.”

He also paid tribute to the management and staff of the public utilities, T&TEC, TSTT and WASA “for the dedication demonstrated in the face of the threat.”

First responders who left their own families during a time of uncertainty to serve the national community, he said, also deserved the gratitude of the country for their commitment.

Even as he was thanking those who did service to country, a war of words had broken out between the Public Services Association president Watson Duke and the Public Administration Minister Maxie Cuffy over the attendance of public officers to work yesterday.

Duke said under the law public officers were entitled to stay home where they were affected by a storm. Cuffy, however, said public officers should have gone out to work. By his count, Duke said 90 per cent of public servants stayed home yesterday, as was their right.

Schools were officially closed yesterday and some will remain closed today after being adversely affected by Bret, while others continue to be used as shelters.


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