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Monday 27 January 2020
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Heavy rain batters south Trinidad

Vehicles takes chance to drive through flooded waters in Clarke Road, Penal. - Marvin Hamilton
Vehicles takes chance to drive through flooded waters in Clarke Road, Penal. - Marvin Hamilton

Heavy and persistent rain battered parts of south Trinidad on Wednesday, flooding houses and streets and leaving people marooned.

Chairman of the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation Dr Allen Sammy described the situation as “the worst.”

Sammy told Newsday: “The people on the ground say it is the worst they have ever seen. There is flooding in areas that do not normally flood. The water is rising, and that is frightening. It does not look too good.

"But our ten councillors are out in the fields.”

Areas like Wilson Road, Batchyia Trace and parts of Barrackpore were severely flooded for the first time.

Students and staff of Debe Hindu (SDMS) Primary School were evacuated as a nearby river overflowed its banks.

Principal Usha Rampersad-Gokool said rain began falling on Tuesday night. By 8 am on Wednesday, water was entering the yard and seeping into the infant department and standard one classrooms.

“Parents saw what was happening and took back their children to their homes. Some children who are living in the area were unable to come to school because they too were affected by the floods,” Rampersad-Gokool.

The school has almost 400 students.

Up to Wednesday afternoon, murky water from the river was rising. Parents helped put furniture on higher ground, hoping the rain would stop.

Flooding, Rampersad-Gokool said, is a recurring problem. But over the past four years, it has become terrible.

She added, “The school has a history of light flooding. The volume of water is too much for the river.

"The MP (Dr Roodal Moonilal) and the corporation have been assisting. Moonilal donated tanks as a previous flood damaged our water system at the school. The Education Ministry promised to help, and we are still waiting.”

Water surrounded S Boodoo's Poultry Depot and Meat Mart at SS Erin Road in Debe. The business was closed, and live chickens were elevated so they didn’t drown.

One representative said he had no choice but to remain closed for the day.

“This (flooding) only started last year. We never used to have water here.”

A family in a house next door was flooded. Water surrounded the wooden house. They were not at home when Newsday visited

At Batchyia Village in Penal, many people were stranded in their homes waiting for the waters to subside. At Clarke Road, parts of the road were impassable, and drivers took alternative routes, many of which were also flooded.

Parts of Penal Rock Road were also impassable.

In a release from the Rural Development and Local Government Ministry, Minister Kazim Hosein saidthe Municipal Emergency Operations Centre of the ministry has been partially activated owing to flooding across the country.

Hosein urged everyone to be cautious when traversing affected areas.

He encouraged the public to contact the disaster management units (DMUs) of the 14 corporations in the case of flooding or any other disaster. The DMUs have already begun distributing sandbags and providing first-response assistance to those affected.

The release quoted Hosein as saying, “We have received several reports of areas where water levels are very high and the DMUs are on site lending assistance where they can.”

He also told people to keep abreast of warnings and updates from the Met Office, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management and other reliable sources for timely and accurate information.

Parts of Port of Spain, Mayaro, Diego Martin and Point Fortin were also affected by Wednesday’s severe rain.

The release added: “Shelter managers have been alerted and shelters will be activated as the need arises. Over 600 Community Emergency Response Team volunteers, who have been trained by the ministry since the beginning of 2019, are on standby to assist their communities.”

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