Heavy rainfall wreaked havoc in north Trinidad yesterday, leaving a trail of destruction-a $2 million wall in Maraval collapsed, a child was reportedly trapped in a house at Powder Magazine, Cocorite, while there was flooding and gridlock in other areas. Up to last night, communities like Maraval, La Seiva, Cocorite, St James, Dundonald Hill and Woodbrook were still under water. Residents were still engaged in mopping up operations with the assistance of Cepep crews. A massive traffic gridlock ensued. Commuters and shoppers at Westmall were left stranded for hours. Residents waiting in vain for the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management to respond and rescue the child trapped in the house were forced to use cutlasses to cut the branches and trunk of the tree themselves to free the child.
During the deluge, a landslide caused Belle View resident Wilfred Alexander's kitchen to cave in. He estimated the damage around $45,000. Ames Douglas said the shops were flooded at Shoppes of Maraval, but they had cleaned it up. Sobbing, Gittens Avenue, Maraval resident Natalie Luz said she had recently moved into her apartment and had lost all her possessions. Amid the mayhem, people took time to capture the images on their cellphone cameras.
$2M to repair Maraval wall
Arriving on the scene at Maraval, Minister of Works and Infrastructure Jack Warner said it will cost about $2 million to fix the wall that fell at Trinidad Country Club. Warner said: "It would cost about $2 million dollars to fix here. Basically, just the front wall itself would cost about $1.5 million." When asked who constructed the wall, Pure Director Hayden Phillip said: "I don't want to give that part of the story. The story is what is happening here. If you want to get a good story come and see what is happening here. Who built the wall is not the story."
When asked a second time, he maintained he was uninterested in that aspect of the story. "The story was not about who built the wall" but about the destruction meted out to citizens, he indicated. The wall, Sunday Guardian research unearthed, was constructed during the first phase of the Maraval project by Seereeram Brothers. The entire project had cost of $13.6 million. On May 12, the PM along with Warner officially opened the Maraval roundabout-part of the Maraval project which was initiated by PNM MP Colm Imbert to alleviate traffic woes in the area.
'Wall saved other properties'
Meanwhile, Phillip said the fallen wall virtually saved all the properties over the road. He said: "You have a six foot drain and all the development going on. You have thousands of houses on the hill. People have no regard for Town and Country Planning. You have the foundation wall which is the retaining wall. The block wall failed throughout. Thank God the water went into Country Club and most of these properties are still intact here." In the background, water trucks and personnel were busy cleaning up the streets coated with slush, debris, broken tree trunks and blocks.
Warner blames '80s developers
Turning his attention to the developers, Warner added: "The developers we have these days have not been developing and taking care of their excess water and the drainage. The system we have here today was a system that was here in the 80s. I would blame the developers." Meanwhile, Warner boasted they had gotten equipment and crews to the site. "On Monday, we shall begin to rebuild the wall," said Warner. "Again, we shall dredge the rivers again until we have proper planning." He even promised to meet with Planning Minister Bhoe Tewarie. In typical fashion, Warner said: " It is unfortunate. It is one of those rare events."
Help for citizens
Warner said Government was ready and willing to assist affected citizens with grants of $15, 000, $25,000 and even more. He said: "There are people in need. It will be done quickly. I am going to Cocorite and La Seiva."
'Nothing unusual about the rainfall'
What the metrological office has described as "usual" weather patterns, has left a trail of destruction in north Trinidad. An official yesterday explained: "There was nothing unusual about the rainfall, one of the possible reasons for the flash flooding was that it was quite possible that high tide was coming in and the water had nowhere to go. "The weather pattern was not unusual, it is common for this time of the year. "What we had was a upper level trough that was enhancing the convective activity, that is what caused the clouds to build rapidly and was responsible for the amount of precipitation."