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Sunday 26 May 2019
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2017, year of floods

The year 2017 will be remembered by Rochard Douglas Road, Barrackpore residents as the year in which they faced three devastating floods within a six-month period.

The first floods occurred following the passage of Tropical Storm Bret on June 20 which left major roads impassable for a day or two.

The second major event took place on Divali day, October 19. This flood was described by Fifth Company councillor, Rafi Mohammed as being more severe than what occurred following Bret, as several roads and communities were marooned by the flood waters which receded several days later.

And then, on the eve of a new year, residents were once again faced with the prospect of spending the New Year’s holiday marooned in their homes as the passage of a low-level trough brought prolonged rainfall. The rains began falling on December 29 and continued yesterday.

The Rochard Douglas Road is approximately 9.82 kilometres long and links several communities from Barrackpore to St Mary’s Village, Moruga.

A number of rivers, including the Lengua River, sometimes flow parallel to the roadway.

When Sunday Newsday visited the area yesterday, the news team was only able to reach as far as Sukhan Trace as parts of the roadway were completely submerged.

Mohammed, who was also doing site visits, said the areas affected were those which had been previously affected by the other two major floods.

“The roads affected right now are those same roads that were affected for Tropical Storm Bret and for Divali: Ramlal Trace, Gilbert Trace, Macbar Trace, Khanai Road north, Nanan Trace north, Oropouche Trace north and the Rochard Douglas Road,” he said.

“For Divali we had approximately 200 families affected and I suspect if the rain continues as it is doing – the water rises in Barrackpore a little later – so we expect...if the water continues to rise and the rain continue to fall, those same 200-plus families will, again, be affected.”

He noted that these families would have had site visits already done by the regional corporation as well as by members of the Social Services Department for compensation from the last two floods.

TRACTOR-TAXI: Residents hitch a ride on a tractor to get to their homes on a flooded street in Barrackpore yesterday. PHOTO BY VASHTI SINGH

“And the people in Barrackpore have not received any sort of assistance from this Government for the tremendous loss they would have incurred over the past two events. The Government said they would have spent $25 million and we have not seen that in Barrackpore. And we want to know where that money has been spent and why have Barrackpore people been left unattended after these three devastations.”

Princes Town Regional Corporation (PTRC) chairman Gowrie Roopnarine, who was also conducting site visits, said, “This is an area the Minister of Works has visited twice already, I don’t know if he will be coming back to visit again but the councillors of these areas had submitted to my office a list of water courses that need dredging, that list was submitted to the Minister of Works, and to this day we at the Regional Corporation never got a response or acknowledgement from the Minister or from the Ministry pertaining to dredging of these water courses.”

Asked about relief efforts, Roopnarine said the corporation had exhausted its disaster-relief funding following the passage of Bret and had to rely on donations from private citizens and companies to provide relief to the affected residents.

“For the last flooding, we did not receive any help from Central Government, we continue to struggle at the corporation to do what we can do. The most I can do is appeal to the public for assistance once again.”

Resident Nazrudeen Mohammed, who braved the floodwaters to speak to the councillors, described the flooding as “frustrating” and wondered how much more the community would be able to take.

He said, “It is real frustrating, I would have been up since last night just looking out because I know the water comes in a rush,” Mohamed said, adding, “A lot of people here getting this over and over again and it is really frustrating, usually at this time we wishing people a happy new year but how can we wish for that if we going into the new year in this sort of situation.”

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