THOUSANDS of people needed help in flood-hit Madras, Kelly Village, St Helena and Warner Village yesterday. Their calls for assistance were answered by hundreds of people entered these communities carrying them bottled water, cooked meals, blankets, mattresses, cleaning supplies and other essentials.
What should have been as easy as supply meeting demand in countless acts of charity, was an uncoordinated traffic nightmare, a duplication of effort as the same people repeatedly received aid and those on dire distress, still trapped by flood water went without.
While the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) coordinated the disaster response, there was no-one to coordinate or direct volunteers, who swarmed to areas highlighted on TV and social media. In a text message yesterday afternoon the TT Police Service said most of these areas were impassable.
The reality was that most of the main roads were clear of water, but lined with soaked mattresses, couches, stoves and fridges and people with hoses washing out their yards.
Yesterday, Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodan and his team along with volunteers with off-road vehicles ventured into the area, as Chaguanas had not received significant damage from rain. Driving into side roads to distribute aid, it became clear that people still weren't being reached.
On Madras Road, where the water reached above waist high, residents walked to corners to wait for trucks delivering supplies.
"Nobody is coming into the streets. I came outside for the first time since Thursday because the water went down enough for me to leave the house and I saw people come, they asked us questions and then they would leave," Michelle Seukaran told Newsday.
Another resident said before yesterday, vehicles were unable to access the street. In Kelly Village, volunteers reached homes before first responders, bringing food and water to people unable to or afraid to leave their homes. For the few who ventured into the water, they were met by people who were dehydrated, hungry and grateful.