Divali observances were washed out in several areas of Trinidad yesterday following a full day of rain.
Crops and livestock were lost and residents in all four corners of the country were left cleaning up mud left by flood waters.
Caroni, Caparo, Arena, Brasso, Gran Couva, and in Penal and Barrackpore, entire streets were inundated with rainfall leaving residents marooned for most of the day.
When Newsday visited some of the affected areas, families were busy cleaning up instead of preparing for the late evening lighting of deyas. At Dam Road, Tabaquite, farmers were close to tears as they counted their losses of 20,000 heads of fully grown cabbage and 18,000 trees of tomatoes which were ready for picking.
Describing yesterday’s rainfall as devastating, farmer Ramdath Bhola said, “I cannot estimate the losses here. This thing is real devastating.”
In Penal and Barrackpore, residents sadly looked on as deyas which they had earlier decorated their yard with, floated away in murky flood waters.
Up to late yesterday, councillors and members of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) toured Penal, Barrackpore, Borde Narve, Princes Town, Moruga, Freeport, Chaguanas, Caroni and other areas, rendering assistance to affected residents.
Martha Ramdath, 60, who lives at New Colonial Road, Barrackpore, said, “Everything ruined. Divali is a special day for me and I was looking forward to celebrate with my family. This is one of the days that is sacred to me and my family and everything just gone. We were cooking since yesterday. Today we do not feel like eating. We spend the entire day sweeping out flood waters from inside our homes.”
Anthony Seecharan, 44, of Calcutta No 2, Freeport, was close to tears.
He said, “Most of the drains are clogged with rubbish. Every time rain falls we get flooding in this area. I am frustrated and fed- up. I had planned to have lunch with my family. We had visitors coming over, however, they could not pass. All our plans had to be cancelled because our house was covered in flood water.”
Flash flooding occurred in Cunjal Road, Barrackpore and the road there became impassable. Divali celebrations in Pou Road, St Mary’s Road, Moruga, was cancelled.
One resident of Debedial Trace, Penal, said that the mood in the village was very sombre. “We decorated the house with lights and deyas to be lit. All that was washed away by flood waters,” Sherrel Ramsubhag, 30, told Newsday. “ The deyas in the yard were floating.”
In Orange Field, Carapichaima, residents tried unsuccessfully to use makeshift barricades to prevent water from entering their homes. The Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation were offering sandbags to residents in McBean,Couva, after visiting the area yesterday afternoon.
Homes in Sangre Chiquito, East Trinidad, were also affected but there were no reports of major structural damage.
The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service late yesterday issued a riverine flood alert for Trinidad.
“As opposed to Street and Flash Flooding, Riverine Flooding is more prolonged and widespread,” the bulletin said. Water levels in major rivers were approaching threshold levels, including the Caroni River.
With additional rainfall predicted for Trinidad and Tobago and the occurrence of high tides at 3:42 am today, the possibility of rivers overtopping was real and imminent, the Met Office warned. The Port Authority also issued a news release warning of the possibility of affected sailing because of weather conditions.
It is expected that the TT Express will sail as scheduled at 6.30 am from Tobago, however, the 4 pm return will be cancelled, pending an improvement in the sea conditions.
The Cabo Star is also expected to sail today. The Cabo Star sailed late to Tobago on Monday after developing engine problems over the weekend.