Water rose slowly at first, up to right below the windows of most of the 550 housing units in Greenvale Park, La Horquetta.
The Housing Development Corporation (HDC) pumps in the community, turned on since Tuesday evening, worked to mitigate the flooding.
But by just before midnight on Friday, more than 400 were partially under water
Pooran Sookdeo, who was at her window, watched in terror as, within what seemed like minutes, the water rose suddenly, surging into the house, leaving her countertops invisible in the brown mess. It rose even more quickly as she and her husband scrambled to the top deck of their bunk bed, the water soaking the mattress.
Sookdeo watched her blender and small kitchen appliances, her papers, her chairs and table float in the water around her.
“I have never seen anything like this. I have never been so frightened,” she said, when she was rescued by a group of men patrolling the area.
Around the Sookdeos’ apartment, fridges floated around inside homes, whose occupants, unable to open their doors because of the strong currents and the force of the water, broke windows to escape.
One resident who couldn’t get to a window had to be pulled out through a roof, the galvanise torn apart to facilitate the escape.
There were reports of water rushing through the streets, pulling people along, and of fish, caimans and snakes spotted moving through the water as people waded through it
It was impossible to see the street below. In some areas, it was impossible to stand in the water without it covering one’s head. Many people tried to swim to safety, while some awaited Coast Guard boats to evacuate.
More than 18 people were taken to hospital by ambulance between 11 pm on Friday and noon yesterday.
Sitting behind the wheel of the ambulance he drives, disaster officer for the northern branch of the Red Cross Society Ken James said the five ambulances serving the area were kept busy.
“We started at 7 pm, but around 11 pm we started taking people – children, amputees, one person was paralysed, and people with bruises on their shins and under their feet – to the hospital.
“Some of the children were in the water too long and even though we put dry clothes on them they were still in need of help.”
Those who weren’t hospitalised went to stay with family and friends.
Some never made it home, having been left stranded on the way when water covered the Churchill Roosevelt Highway.
About 300 people only stayed a while, but some spent the night at the La Horquetta Community Centre, the La Horquetta South Primary School and the La Horquetta North Primary School, opened by authorities on Friday night. When a Sunday Newsday team visited the centre yesterday morning, just over 100 remained, with residents as well as first-responders and volunteers bringing water, food, toothbrushes and other supplies to aid the displaced.