If citizens were not sure of it, the weather from Monday night into much of yesterday was a sure signal that the rainy or wet season is well and truly here.
Although its start was officially announced last week by the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (TTMS), the season is off to a slow start.
The TTMS has, however, forecast a “volatile and erratic” wet season, which usually runs from May through early December. Although, TTMS acting Chief Climatologist Kenneth Kerr says their findings have suggested a drier start to the season, the meteorologists also predicted rainfall will pick up in the coming months, particularly in the second half of the wet season. Furthermore, the experts note that most areas across Trinidad and Tobago are expected to receive between 101 and 110 per cent of the average seasonal rainfall and that isolated areas favouring north-eastern and west-central Trinidad and eastern Tobago may receive up to 125 per cent of average rainfall accumulations.
With the Atlantic Hurricane season also falling in the middle of the wet season, from June through November 30, where the average four named storms could form and directly impact T&T, citizens should prepare for unexpected occurrences.
Given the abnormal incidents of nationwide flooding in the past five years, even in circumstances where there was not an overwhelming amount of rainfall, it suggests that the Office of Disaster and Management Preparedness (ODPM) should, at this stage, already be in a situation to kick into high gear.
Over the weekend, the Port-of-Spain City Corporation and Diego Martin and San Juan/Laventille and Regional Corporations held their annual disaster simulation exercise at Woodford Square in preparation for the season. It is good to prepare but we hope this will translate into smooth and efficient responses by these first-responder agencies to emergencies during the season. We also hope all other regional corporations and disaster management response teams have already collaborated with the ODPM to ensure all systems are in place to ensure proper responses to any national episode.
However, preparedness management is not restricted to state agencies alone. It is also the responsibility of citizens to ensure they undertake activities to mitigate against the possibility of their properties becoming damaged in occurrences of natural disasters.
A simple exercise like applying hurricane straps to roofs can save thousands of dollars in property damage, since the loss of rooftops can occur even in the dry season due to unusual weather activity. Of course, no home should also be without emergency supplies, including medicine kits, canned food, water, battery-operated devices—including radios-, in case of emergencies. And there are other practices, like not dumping garbage into waterways, diverting river courses or blocking the free flow of drains through illegal addition to properties, which go a long way towards preventing flooding.
After all, it takes only one storm or hurricane directly impacting a country to create a major flooding and national disaster event. While we have been fortunate in previous years to have avoided any direct major impact by such phenomena, we should not always automatically feel we will continue to be so blessed.
So, the question really is, are we truly ready for the rainy season?