Clean-up in south Trinidad is still going on after many areas remained under flood waters for days last month, leaving mud, sludge and debris in their wake. Heavy rains destroyed or damaged many homes, leaving residents devastated.
But this was not all the rains left behind. In the aftermath, all types of critters were brought by the floods, one of which carries a deadly disease.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease which can occur when someone swallows food or water contaminated with rat urine. It can also be spread by the bacteria entering the body through open wounds on the feet. It had been reported that there had been four deaths so far due to the disease. However, CEO of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) Gail Miller-Meade said at this time they had 15 cases, with two deaths, but only one confirmed.
The Health Ministry confirmed this figure since it can only attribute a death to leptospirosis when it has been confirmed. Residents in affected areas have been warned against eating produce from flooded areas because of the number of rats brought to the surface as they tried to escape the floods.
Chairman of the South/West Regional Corporation Dr Allen Sammy said in an effort to bring some semblance of normality to the area and residents, the corporation has brought on 84 additional staff to do restorative work. He said minor watercourses which have been clogged were being cleaned manually, as there were areas where backhoes could not go.
“We are now picking up bulk garbage as people are throwing stuff out on their own. We are doing this with our resources, because we have no additional resources from the State. The State never responded and said, ‘Well, Penal/Debe you’re in a crisis, here is $1 million. Hire equipment and machinery and what-have-you to help in your restoration works.’ They have not done that, they haven’t even appeared, so we have to make do with what we have,” he said.
Sammy said spraying and rat-baiting were ongoing, but their efforts could be expanded much more if the corporation had greater involvement from the State. “Even if we could get some additional gangs to expedite what we are doing right now, that would help tremendously. At the regional co-ordinating meeting, I met with Works Minister Rohan Sinanan over a month ago. I told him we needed help with our major watercourses. I met with Agriculture (Ministry) officials and they are trying to help us with some of the watercourses, but in a limited way,” he said.
Chairman of the Siparia Regional Corporation Dr Glen Ramadharsingh said while residents in his area were being responsible and very careful about what they sold and bought, to help alleviate the people’s distress the corporation provided hot meals and canned foods for them. “We had some massive clean-up exercises with the corporate community and volunteers. We went to each of the homes and supplied cleaning material, disinfectant, bleach, mops, brooms, clothing and groceries. Some of those who were affected lived far from the main roads, but we went to every house in every electoral district.”