Trinidad Guardian– Soldiers from the T&T Defence Force are now struggling to evacuate dozens of families from Greenvale Park, La Horquetta, after floods as high at 10 feet covered the community.
A pregnant woman who went into labour as floodwaters rose around her home had issued an urgent appeal for help, prompting a massive rescue operation to get her out of the floods. She remained unidentified up to moments ago. A nearby neighbour, Sarah Hamid, coordinated the rescue at Baltic Avenue, Greenvale, along with members of the media and the police.
Rescue teams used rope to guide the weary flood victims to safety. Every time a resident reached dry ground, the rescue teams and relieved neighbours applauded.
Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein said they were making every attempt to help the woman and save the life of her unborn baby. Hosein said teams from the Disaster Management Unit led by Captain Neville Wint were on the ground coordinating rescue efforts.
The ministry’s head of the Disaster Management Unit Jerry David confirmed the floods had risen more than 10 feet, washing away cars and reaching the roof of some houses.
Videos of residents wading neck high in flood waters with umbrellas peeking out from the swirling waters also circulated on social media. Many people could not reach home and had to stay with family and friends out of flood zones.
David said the floods were the result of ad-hoc development.
“A lot of what is happening now is because of construction done in flood-prone areas. Right now we have to adapt to what exists and try to get people to safety,” David said.
Residents from Plum Mitan and Biche also experienced the worst flooding ever seen.
Hosein said he planned to visit Sangre Grande in the morning to bring relief to residents. The floods triggered losses which are yet to be estimated but there has been no loss of human life.
Drivers using the Churchill Roosevelt Highway heading east have also opted to park up in areas not affected by flooding to wait out.
People marooned in Grande
Residents in Sangre Grande and environs were also marooned in their homes without any assistance and workers who either left home for work or are trying to reach home are unable to get their various destinations. People travelling to Toco were reportedly sleeping on the benches provided at PTSC Bus Terminal, as they were unable to get to Toco because of the Matura bridge had overflowed its bank, making it impassable.
The Valencia Stretch and the old Valencia Road, which was an alternative road to get to Matura, Toco and Matelot, has been flooded out.
In addition to the Matura River overflowing its bank, the water level is as high as four feet in some areas, marooning people traversing the roadway and causing traffic pileups.
Sangre Chiquito in also under water, making it difficult for vehicles to use the Eastern Main Road that takes motorist from Sangre Grande to Manzanilla/Mayaro. Taxi, maxi taxi and PH cars have forced to cease the route.
Sangre Grande Regional Corporation chairman Terry Rondon said unfortunately, he will not be able to help a lot of people overnight because he was starved of resources. He knocked the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management for once again not organising before the rains hit, noting there were no shelters for people to go to. He also slammed caretakers of buildings who refused to open their doors to help marooned people.
“Imagine people are in distress and caretakers of these buildings are refusing them to shelter those in need. We are helpless, as no support is coming from the army to have these people marooned in their homes removed. We just do not have the resources, I am ashamed,” Rondon told the T&T Guardian.
Rondon again called for a permanent disaster shelter fitted with all that is necessary to house those in time of disaster for his region.
MP for Toco/Sangre Grande Glenda Jennings-Smith, who was touring flooded areas, was also upset when she learnt nothing was put in place for people who were flooded out. She was busy making several calls to get assistance but all proved useless as she could not organise the help.
Chaguanas was also flooded out along the Connector Road, Chadee Lohan Road, Crowne Trace, and the Edinburgh 500 areas after the Cunupia River broke its banks.
Along Welcome Road, Cunupia, residents were marooned by the floods and the St Helena Bypass Road was impassable.
T&T moved to Red Alert with a riverine flood warning in effect, especially with the high tide and continuing rainfall.
Rainfall is expected to continue until Sunday.
WASA forced to shut down plants
The Water and Sewerage Authority meanwhile last night advised customers that heavy rainfall over the past 48 hours had negatively impacted the operation at some of its treatment plants across the country. It said this was due to issues like turbid river conditions, clogged intake screens and power failures.
In a release, WASA said the affected facilities include the Caroni plant, where production has been reduced from 75 million gallons daily (mgd) to 55 mgd, while operation was stopped at the Tompire, Matura, Hollis, Aripo, Quare, Guanapo, Caura, Luengo & Naranjo, Acono, Blanchisseuse, Las Cuevas, and La Fillette treatment plants in Trinidad and the Highlands Road and Hillsborough West plants in Tobago.
It said the areas affected by the disruption which such activity has caused were: Santa Cruz, Belmont, Morvant, Cascade, St. James, Cocorite, Kelly, Caroni, Chaguanas, Longdenville, Couva, Carapichaima, Claxton Bay, Gasparillo, Marabella, Pleasantville, San Fernando, La Romaine, South Oropouche, Siparia, Debe, Penal, La Brea,Toco, Salybia, Valencia, Arima, Tacarigua, St Joseph, Mason Hall and Bacolet.
The release said the affected facilities are expected to return to service when conditions normalise at the various locations. It advised customers to manage their water use efficiently, as it may take up to 24 hours for the restoration of their scheduled pipe borne water supply after things return to normal. As a further conservation measure, it asked customers, where possible, to also harvest rainfall to supplement their water usage.
For further information or assistance, customers are asked to contact WASA’s Customer Call Centre toll free at 800-4420/26.