Heavy rains devastate rural communities

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A Gasparillo resident walks through flood near a local bar on Saturday. – AYANNA KINSALE

RURAL communities – coastal and inland – became isolated from the rest of the country on Saturday when heavy rain caused an almost unprecedented number of reported landslides and floods reported by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM).

Overnight and morning showers inundated regions from Mayaro to Debe, forcing thousands were remain indoors, inundated by impassable levels of water, the debris from the dozens of reported landslides, and other obstacles.

Others saw their homes damaged by the flooding and were forced to seek shelter.

Two major landslides and smaller landslips led to the closure of the Lady Young Road in Morvant near the Hilton hotel to allow workers to clear the debris. – SUREASH CHOLAI

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management said at least ten people took shelter at the Plum Mitan Community Center, in the Biche Administrative District.

At just after 3 pm on Saturday, the Meteorological Service issued a riverine flood alert – yellow, taking effect until Monday, unless revised.

It said accumulated rainfall has caused major river levels across Trinidad to be near or above 80 per cent, and smaller watercourses at “critical levels”.

At around 2 pm, the Caparo and Caroni River (at El Carmen), were reportedly at 98 and 95 per cent capacity, respectively, while Caroni River (at Bamboo #3) and North Oropouche both at 80 per cent capacity, leaving many internal communities vulnerable to serious flooding.

Periods of rainfall, the TTMS said, will likely continue over the next 24-36 hours, which will result in further elevation of the river levels.

“As a result, there is now a moderate risk to public safety (and) livelihood.”

The ODPM also issued a statement on Saturday afternoon, highlighting the dozens of areas where landslides and floods have been reported.

The South Central Region alone accounted for over half reported incidents of flooding across the country, with parts of Couva; Freeport; Caparo; Claxton Bay; Guaracara Road; California; and Point Lisas among the worst affected.

A boy looks out at floodwaters from the roof of a house off the Gasparillo Main Road, Gasparillo on Saturday. – AYANNA KINSALE

There were also landslides recorded in Brasso, Preysal, Gran Couva, Guaracara-Tabaquite Road and Flanagin Town.

Meanwhile, residential flooding in the South West Region has been reported in Penal, La Romain, Debe, Barrackpore. There was one reported landslide in Penal, at Railway Road, San Francique.

In the North West Region, there were landslides in Malick and Lady Young Road, the latter of which was closed to vehicles by the Ministry of Transport on Saturday.

Abattoir Road, located a short distance from City Gate, Port of Spain, has once again experienced near impassable flooding.

Major flooding in the North Central Region was reported in Tacarigua; Arouca; Maracas, St Joseph and Valsayn, with one landslide also reported in Maracas, St Joseph.

The East and Tobago reported one flood and landslide, respectively, in Biche and Speyside.

The ODPM said its Disaster Management Unit is currently responding to reports of land movement in a number of areas.

Valsayn North residents clean up debris after flash flooding in their community on Saturday. – SUREASH CHOLAI

Sudhir Sagramsingh, councillor for Maracas Bay, Santa Cruz and La Filette, said the villages under his jurisdiction experienced them all, although flooding had mostly subsided when he spoke with Newsday.

“There was a total blockage on the North Coast Road at some point but we dispatched backhoes and that has since been cleared,” Sagramsingh said, adding that a tree-cutting unit also cleared a number of trees felled during the strong winds and heavy rain.

He said, while residents have reported flooded yards, so far none have reported indoor damage.

“There was one incidence where an embankment was seriously compromised and it undermining a home,” Sagramsingh said.

“The thing is, it’s held up for now. I can speak for myself. There are councillors who experience problems unique to their region.”

For example, he said the councillor for and residents of El Socorro nearby face frequent flooding.

“The challenges I face on my side is really the landslides, falling trees and roads being compromised.”

Similar to many other areas across the country, residents often face interruptions to their water supply, provided by surface water treatment plants, which typically face operational issues after heavy rain and floods.

He said emergency response personnel in various communities covered by the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation are on standby to respond to emergencies.

“In the event a family has to be evacuation from a home…we have persons on standby to activate the shelters,” he said.

A pet dog peeks behind a water-logged year at Mayfield Drive, Valsayn North after flash flooding subsided on Saturday. – SUREASH CHOLAI

“We’re hoping for the best but we’re preparing ourselves for any eventuality.”

Meanwhile, Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes, who spoke at length on Wednesday about infrastructural issues affecting many areas in her constituency, told Newsday the situation had gotten drastically worse.

“Everything I highlighted (at the opposition’s media conference) on Wednesday got that much worse.

“Today, in addition to everything else, we have the Gran Couva Road collapsing. So that is impassible.

“I want to say that when we highlight these issues, it is not from a place of finding a villain. It is a question of ensuring that the safety of people in our day to day activities is maintained.”

Day-to-day maintenance, she said, is key part of the government’s duties.

“It is not a by-the-way. While we understand climate change and all these things, the fact is that there has been infrastructural neglect and we are facing the consequences of such.”

In Tobago, the island’s Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and its supporting units were kept busy clearing roadways, mostly on the eastern part.

The swollen St Joseph River which overtopped its bank in the Marcas/St Joseph community on Satruday. – SUREASH CHOLAI

Heavy rains brought down landslides on the Bloody Bay Road and parts of Delaford and Speyside.

TEMA director Allan Stewart said the situation was speedily addressed.

“We had a couple of challenging ones (landslides) which have resulted into total blockage on the Bloody Bay Road,” he told Newsday.

“There was also a landslide that brought down a tree and blocked off the entire road so the teams were required to pull their resources together.”

Stewart said there was also a landslide between Speyside and Delaford, which partially blocked the roadway. Another landslide also affected a residential property at “Big Hole,” Goodwood.