TRACTORS and rafts operated as taxis in several parts of south Trinidad as flood wreaked havoc causing damage to properties and marooning several people.
From Barrackpore to Penal, to Debe and Woodland, several homes were partially submerged in murky water after constant rain on Thursday night and yesterday. Several residents packed sandbags in front their homes and businesses, but for many people the volume of water was too much. Apart from trying to secure household items, residents were also securing their animals.
At Rochard Douglas Road #3 in Barrackpore, a group of men were seen on the trailer of a tractor. They were heading to worship at a mosque near Kanhai Trace. At Pluck Road in Woodland, Newsday saw at least two tractors transporting residents to their homes.
In some instances, the water level rose to about five feet and residents said they had no other choice but to wait for the water to subside.
Anand Seegobin, the owner of a mini-mart and feed shop, of Rochard Douglas Road, said several of his stocks were watersoaked.
“I lost about $4,000 worth of items. Last year I lost about $10,000 in the flood. I feel people don’t have proper drainage around their houses and the water is taking longer to move. Plenty people are not taking care of their drains.”
At Suchit Trace in Penal, villagers rescued Bissoondaye Nanan, 76, at about 2 pm. Because of the rising waters, the woman was stranded in her house for almost 24 hours.
Her son Ishwar Gopaul, 56, said she lives alone, and he lives next door. She cannot walk, and he could not physically carry her through the murky waist-high water.
“Since last night water was entering the house and she is a sickly person,” Gopaul said.
Using a dinghy from the Penal Debe Regional Corporation, villagers brought her out. She was taken to a relative’s home.
At Gopie Trace in Penal, residents – among them Alex Seepersad, Neel Ramlal and Donny Maharaj, said they were using their rafts to assist anyone who needed help.
Councillor for Avocat/San Francique, Doodnath Mayrhoo, together with the disaster management unit (DMU) of the Siparia Regional Corporation, toured several affected areas and distributed food.
Speaking with reporters at Pluck Road, Mayrhoo said: “This is heartbreaking for the people of this area. Some of the people have not received compensation for last year and were in the process of rebuilding.”
Doodnath said he was disappointed that no government officials visited to help the distressed residents.
“I lost my phone yesterday, so I am not sure if anyone tried to make contact. I haven’t seen (Works and Transport Minister) Rohan Sinanan. We have been clamouring for work to be done on the Oropouche river which is overflowing. It has broken on four areas.”
A statement from the senior disaster management coordinator of the Rural Development and Local Government Ministry said the DMUs of the 14 municipal corporations remain out on the field, monitoring, conducting initial damage assessments and delivering assistance to areas in need.
The ministry said efforts from the DMUs will continue until conditions return to a state of normalcy.
Citizens were urged to take the necessary measures to ensure personal safety and protect property.