With the Met Office signalling the start of the rainy season and the trauma of last year's flash-flooding devastation still raw, residents of Diego Martin are being assured that an early warning system has been deployed to give them sufficient time to evacuate.Chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation Daryl Smith gave the assurance in an interview with the T&T Guardian on Friday.
"We have put in place flood early warning systems, installed on high-tech poles in flood-prone areas," said Smith."These poles have sensors that will emit a high-pitched alarm anytime water covers the sensor. The current sensors are set to six inches above the ground."Smith said the sensors will alert residents anytime in the day or night and will also be programmed to send text messages to residents.
"Part of the alarm system is a text alert, which means no matter where you are, you will get a text saying the area is about to flood and you should take all measures to get home and secure your pets, or if you have elderly relatives or children to get them out before the water rises."He said the corporation was in the process of gathering data from residents to put into its alert database.
Smith said since coming into office in 2013, flood prevention has been the corporation's top priority."Since 2013, we embarked on an 'all hands on deck' programme, where we bumped up the cleaning crew from 70 to 200 people. We have also been working with WASA to raise pipes out the rivers to stop debris from getting stuck and piling up in the river."He said that project was almost 80 per cent complete.
The corporation has also embarked on a project to replant trees in areas affected by bush fires in the past years."In the past we had massive bush fires and we have replanted over 2,000 trees in those areas. We also ensured there were fire trails to help the fire service in fighting fires. We had very few bush fires this season."
The T&T Guardian also spoke to chairman of the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation, Hazarie Ramdeen, who said the corporation has been aggressively cleaning drains in the area in attempt to avoid a repeat of last year's massive flood in the area."We have been de-silting drains, aggressively cleaning the area and all the watercourses," said Ramdeen.
"We gave contracts to a number of small contractors to ensure it was done on time."He said residents of Mafeking and Mayaro who had refused to be evacuated from their homes last year are better prepared this year."I think they understand this year that when the water starts to rise in that way, that they need to get out. Because even though we had floods before, no one expected it to turn out so bad as it did last year."
However, even though he said all shelters are prepared and fully stocked in case of an emergency, he was still cautious about the wrath of Mother Nature."Nothing can stop the wrath of Mother Nature, what we had last year was a natural disaster. We hope we will not see a repeat, but if we get rain for five to six days straight, we have to be prepared for anything."
Chairman of the Penal Debe Regional Corporation, Premchand Sookoo, also said his corporation was ready for the 2015 rainy season."We cleared and cleaned all major watercourses and put all preventative measures in place already," said Sookoo."We looked at the areas that were flooded in the past and tried to treat those first, we are well prepared in the event that we get floods."
Sookoo said the corporation will also be taking out full page ads in all the daily newspapers to sensitise residents on the location and availability of shelters.