With a developing tropical wave heading towards T&T and the Windward Islands, Municipal Corporations began prepping for floods, landslips and other hazards.
At 2 pm yesterday, the Meteorological Service issued a Yellow Level Adverse Weather Alert, beginning at 5 am today and ending at 8 pm Thursday. It forecast showers and isolated thunderstorms from this morning over oceanic waters and across T&T. It comes as the active tropical wave became better organised yesterday morning, with a 60 per cent chance of a Tropical depression formation over 48 hours and an 80 per cent chance through five days.
The United States National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said the wave was a few hundred miles east of the Windward Islands at 2 pm. The NHC expects a tropical depression within the next few days as the system moves westward to west-northwestward at 15 to 20 mph across the eastern and central Caribbean Sea.
The Meteorological Service warned that today’s weather could bring gusty winds above 70km/hr with rainfall accumulations of 75 – 125 mm. Therefore, the public can see street or flash flooding, larger than usual waves in open waters and the Gulf of Paria, and loose and fallen trees.
Following an advisory from the TTMS, Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Faris Al-Rawi met with Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales, Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds and Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan to discuss preparedness. He then met virtually with mayors, Chairmen, Chief Executive Officers and Disaster Management Units of the 14 Corporations to ascertain the level of readiness, equipment status and offer sand for making additional sandbags.
The Local Government Ministry also coordinated with WASA, T&TEC, Defense Force, Municipal Police Service, National Quarries Company Limited and the Solid Waste Management Company.
Corporations on high alert
Sangre Grande Regional Corporation Chairman Anil Juteram said drivers and workers on backhoes and trucks are on high alert to respond to emergencies. Juteram said the Sangre Grande region is prone to floods, landslides and damage to homes during severe weather events. Equipment is on standby as he said additional rain might cause road blockages in the Matelot and Toco communities.
“As we speak, the Disaster Management Unit is already equipped and ready to respond. Thank God I can say that around two weeks ago, we got an additional vehicle to help the Disaster Management Unit with rescuing people. Nine people can be seated in it. It is a Toyota Land Rover. It can go through any terrain, waters and everything,” Juteram said.
After learning of the depression, Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez alerted the Port-of-Spain City Corporation’s administration and engineering team to prepare for adverse weather. Martinez said preparation included clearing drains of debris, inspecting watercourses, and coordinating emergency shelters. The corporation also has sandbags to share with residents living in areas that usually flood.
“Anytime you are close to a river, if the river exceeds its banks, then the areas close to the rivers are going to be affected. Then you know areas like South Quay are usually those that are affected together with certain parts of Wrightson Road and certain parts of Woodbrook,” Martinez said.
Martinez said the corporation recently noted flooding in Bournes Road, St James and near the St James Secondary School and will monitor those areas.
Penal/Debe Regional Corporation Chairman Dr Allen Sammy said the Disaster Management Unit is on standby to assist. It includes the crews operating the backhoes, trucks and dinghies to meet distressed residents. Sammy said that the levels of rainfall and winds forecast usually see fallen trees in the region. However, he said the Fire Services responds quickly.
The Penal Secondary School and the Woodland Hindu Primary School are on the alert to accommodate residents in cases of emergency evacuations.
But given Tuesday’s floods in the Barrackpore and Debe communities, Sammy is worried about the impact of the impending weather.
Chairman of the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation (MRCRC) Raymond Cozier said there were trucks, backhoes and sandbags positioned in Mayaro, Biche and Rio Claro. The MRCRC will also dispatch a truck to collect additional sand today to make more sandbags for residents.
While he is not worried about the response, there is a concern for residents who still have tarpaulin covering their homes after their roofs were blown off last year. Cozier said they submitted documents to the National Commission for Self Help since then and are still awaiting relief.