Schools and businesses remained closed and scores of people could not get to work as rising floodwaters, exacerbated by high tide, triggered massive flooding in 22 areas across South Trinidad yesterday.
Among the schools closed were Shiva Boys College, Debe Hindu School, Barrackpore East, and West Secondary and Ramai Trace Hindu School.
The floods covered most of Clarke Road, Penal Rock Road, Derrick Road, Lalbeharry Trace, Papourie Road, Lower Barrackpore, Hassanali Trace, Clarke Road, Katwaroo Trace, Digity Trace, Batchya, Laltoo Trace, Mohess Road, Ramdharry Trace, Ali Avenue and Community Street in Penal.
Late yesterday, Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein said the Disaster Management Units of the Corporation were activated and over 600 Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers, trained this year, were on standby to assist in their communities.
At Lalbeharry Trace, livestock farmer Nathaniel Mungal was once again counting his losses. All the produce in his market stall had washed away, along with four pigs and ducks and chickens.
“The yam gone, the dasheen gone. The doors gone, ducks and all the young goats in water, the hogs drowning. I bring up the cattle and now I come to see how much of the 100 plus ducks in that cage there. The common fowl in the water now. I don’t know how many of them will die,” he said.
Mungal said every time it rains and floods, he gets coverage in the media but not a single cent is given to him by the Ministry to get back on his feet.
“Its real losses I suffer over the years. They need to do something about the drainage,” he said.
At Boodoo’s chicken depot, caged chickens drowned.
A worker said, “Right now we have four feet of water in here. We cannot sell and we have to secure the chickens. We cannot say for sure yet how many drowned.”
At Quarry Road, Siparia the Tunaco River burst its banks, causing residents of Antoine Trace to be marooned. Lyndon Rajkumar and his mother Grace said they could only watch in horror as their appliances floated away.
Rajkumar said, “Right now we standing in waist height water. The deep freeze floating,” he said.
Chairman of the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation Dr Allen Sammy said the floods were caused by eight hours of continuous rainfall.
Although the rivers under the PDRC have been cleaned, Sammy said the seven watercourses which fall under the Ministry of Works have been dredged partially.
“What we need is for these rivers to be cleaned in their entirety,” he said. Sammy noted that sandbags had been distributed earlier in the year and residents were able to prepare for the floods in some areas.
Meanwhile, chairman of the Princes Town Regional Corporation Gowrie Roopnarine said he was fearful that if the floodwaters continued to rise “it will not be good for the area. It will be a mini-disaster. We have arrangements to bring them.”
Roopnarine said several areas, Hardbargain, Williamsville, part of Barrackpore, had flooded as well as the M1 Ring Road.
“We have foodstuff, mattresses, and tarpaulins. If this flood continues in the Barrackpore area it will be a few hundred people who will be affected,” he said.
Roopnarine said ad-hoc development was a contributory factor for the floods. He said in the Barrackpore district, there were a few developers who still managed to get authorization for development from Town and Country Planning even though it was not approved by the Corporation.
Meanwhile, Minister Hosein said Disaster Management Units have begun distributing sandbags and providing first response assistance to all affected citizens.
“Presently, Disaster Management officials are responding to reports of blown-off roofs and assisting to clear fallen trees in an effort to ensure that all routes remain accessible to the public.
Shelter managers have been alerted and shelters will be activated as the need arises,” he added.
List of Flooded areas
1) Satnarine Trace, Clarke Road
2) Wilson Road, Penal
3) Bunsee Trace
4) Clarke Road, Penal
5) Penal Rock Road
6) Batchiya Trace
7) Debe Trace
8) Rochard Road
9) Wellington Road
10) New Colonial Road, Barrackpore
11) S.S Erin Road in the vicinity of Batchiya Trace Cemetery
12) San Francique
13) Lachoos Road, Penal
1) Quarry Village, Siparia
2) Mendez Village, Siparia
1) In the vicinity of Pleasantville
1) Oropiche River Trace, Jones Village
2) Oropouche South Trace, Barrackpore
3) Figari Trace Basse Terre, Moruga
4) Second Branch, Buen Intento
5) Western Trace, St Mary’s Road
6) Realise Road, Barrackpore