Mosquito Creek will be fully accessible by midday today, after emergency works and pumping to mitigate flooding and aid in drainage are completed, the National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCO) said in a statement late yesterday.
Police were turning away commuters on Mosquito Creek yesterday afternoon for “safety concerns” after floodwaters rose to dangerously high levels. The water had risen to the point where it was level with the seawall, a police officer at the South-western Division Dispatch in Siparia told Sunday Newsday, and so the police had taken the decision to prevent vehicles from crossing until conditions improved.
TTPS spokeswoman Ellen Lewis said while the police could not officially close a road– only the Ministry of Works and Transport was authorised to do so– for obvious reasons, it was unsafe to pass and so only drivers of high vehicles willing to take the risk were being allowed to pass. For the rest of commuters, alternate routes were advised.
Thousands of residents living in the southwestern peninsula have been all but cut off from the rest of the country as the main thoroughfare, Mosquito Creek, has been inundated after a perfect storm of three days of incessant rains and the spring tides— the highest tides of the year, occurring just after the full or new moon.
Dominique McClashie is one of them. McClashie left her South Oropouche home at 8 am yesterday, optimistically hoping the floodwaters on Mosquito Creek would have, by that time, subsided. Three hours later and after several attempts at alternate routes, McClashie found herself stuck in standstill traffic on the SS Erin Road in Penal, tired, hungry and frustrated.
“I didn’t even eat breakfast this morning when I left home because I was in such a rush, and now I can’t even turn around because there’s traffic and flood everywhere,” she told Sunday Newsday over the phone. She eventually made it to her destination at 1 pm.
Another commuter, who requested her name not be used, told Sunday Newsday that she had been unable to return to her La Romaine home since she left for work in Point Fortin at 5.30 am on Friday. She was also forced to take alternative routes as Mosquito Creek remained impassable to all but high vehicles.
“The challenge we are having is that there’s water coming on to the road from both sides, from the sea and the swamp,” Minister of Works and Transport, Rohan Sinanan told Sunday Newsday. Compounding the problem was a breach on the cut channel, he said, adding that NIDCO was working on repairing the barrier. NIDCO has also added a third pump to help drain the water from road, Sinanan said. He said the current pumping system was manually activated, and the ministry was considering implementing a mechanical system to avoid the need to have people be on site for the pumps to start working.
Sinanan acknowledged the long-term frustrations of commuters who take the Mosquito Creek every day—and those who endured an hours-long wait to cross on Friday and yesterday.