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US donates 2 search and rescue dinghies

Published: 
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
John W McIntyre Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy, second from left, and Dr Allen Sammy, Chairman of the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation look at the search and rescue watercraft donated by the Embassy to the corporation on Monday. Also in photo are alderman Purushottam Singh, left and Vedesh Lall of the Disaster Management Committee. PICTURE RISHI RAGOONATH

The US government donated two dinghies to assist disaster relief teams with search and rescue operations at the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation on Monday.

The watercraft can carry up to five people each and will be used to assist people marooned by flooding.

The donation came even as thundershowers caused flash flooding in some low-lying districts.

The rainy season began at the start of this month.

Chairman of the Corporation Dr Allen Sammy said 60 per cent of the area under the corporation’s purview was located in the Oropouche drainage basin.

Unlike other areas, Sammy said, flooding in the Penal/Debe area took up to a week to recede.

He said based on official government statistics, farmers lost more than $3 million in losses while over $1.2 million in poultry was destroyed following devastating floods last year.

While residents were on standby for major floods this year, Sammy said he expected more flooding to occur as preventative action was not taken by the central government to clean major watercourses. He added that rising sea levels also posed a serious threat to coastal villages.

Chargé d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy, John McIntyre, said he was familiar with the devastating flooding in the area.

He also said the embassy would assist in the construction of retention ponds in the area.

He said: “The US Embassy remains steadfast in our commitment to continuing our partnership with the Ministry of National Security for combined opportunities to collaborate in humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts throughout the country.

“During my two tours in Trinidad and Tobago, I’ve seen firsthand how devastating the floods can be in the southern region.

Heading into another wet season, it is essential that we do whatever we can with the resources available, to help mitigate some of the effects on families, businesses, and institutions to ensure public safety and security.”

He noted that during October 2017, the US Embassy took note of the responses of disaster personnel and wanted to invest in the corporation’s disaster preparedness efforts to decrease response time during times of crisis.

“Identifying these efforts as critical to the US Embassy and our partnership with Trinidad and Tobago, members of the US Embassy conducted a joint assessment immediately following the October 2017 floods with the assistance of chairman Allen Sammy, Debe-Penal Corporation’s Disaster Management Unit, and the TTDF Engineers. This assessment led to why we are here today: to present the corporation with two shallow search and rescue watercraft to assist the Disaster Management Unit to provide supplies and, when necessary, evacuate stranded families living in flood-prone areas in the Debe/ Penal Corporation,” he said. 

He added that the US Embassy would partner with other corporations to lend assistance in the future.

Flooding was reported in several areas on Monday including Chaguanas and Freeman Road, St Augustine. Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein said his ministry was prepared to deal with any impact of floods this year.

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