Flood fury in northwest Trinidad

Fire officers and St Ann's residents look at two cars in the St Ann's river which were swept away on Tuesday by flood waters. - Jeff K. Mayers
Fire officers and St Ann's residents look at two cars in the St Ann's river which were swept away on Tuesday by flood waters. - Jeff K. Mayers

SEVERAL parts of northwest Trinidad were left under mud and debris, people lost household possessions, pets died and vehicles were swept away after an intense shower unleashed a fury of floodwater in Maraval, St Ann’s, Diego Martin and east Port of Spain on Tuesday.

The downpour came in a flash starting at around 3 pm and ended about 45 minutes later.

Traffic was backed up in several areas for hours after roads became impassable.

At Symond Valley Road, St Ann’s, five families lost just about everything everything.

Sherleema Kydd said the only items she managed to save were her cellphone, her daughter’s tablet, chargers for the devices and a few other items.

Unfortunately two of the families’ dogs, Ashley and Sky, died along with an unnamed white rabbit. A tortoise named Lazarus, thought lost or worse, was rescued.

Clean up along the St Ann's Main Road in St Ann's. - Jeff K. Mayers

“I was at home when rain started to fall,” Kydd said.

“And in about ten minutes someone said, ‘If you see how big the river is.’ In about 20 minutes they called me to move the dogs. I untied the three dogs and while doing that I heard the water rumbling.”

She said the next thing she knew is there was water all around her and entering her home. Residents went and rescued her daughter from the rising waters, which were between four and five feet deep.

“I was cooking, now going and make pelau and lasagne for my sister-in-law who now come back from the US. The mincemeat, the cheese, the chicken...everything gone!”

Kydd said most of the affected family members will be staying with an aunt in Diego Martin until they can clean their home.

Another relative said they witnessed a similar situation in 1995.

MP for Port of Spain North/St Ann's West assists Symond Valley Roads, St Ann's residents with the clean up effort. - Jeff Mayers

Relatives explained that an incomplete wall at two points is the main reason for the flooding. The families’ homes are elbowed by two rivers, the SymondValley river to the north and Fondes Amandes river to the east.

Port of Spain North/St Ann's West MP Stuart Young visited the family and promised to have a Cepep crew assist with the cleanup on Wednesday.

“Fortunately, I recently purchased some hampers so I will send that. They will have to follow up with (the Ministry of) Social Development,” Young said.

“I have already been in touch with the Minister of Works and the Minister of Local Government and I spoke with the Prime Minister.”

Lower down the road from the displaced families, two cousins said they had to jump a wall to avoid being trapped in their home when flood waters rose to nearly half their height.

The women, Raynelle Taylor and Terisse Donawa, both about five feet tall, said they were only able to grab their phones and one laptop before climbing a partition separating the two downstairs apartments.

A Symond Valley Road, St Ann's resident shovels sludge out of his home. - Jeff Mayers

Another relative said they were flooded before, in 1995, but Tuesday’s experience was worse.

Across the street, the Fondes Amandes river continued on its destructive path, sweeping away two cars. Four others were saved because of a strategically parked Nissan X-Trail.

Businesses at Shoppes of Maraval had to be closed after they too were flooded out. Most of them were food establishments, which were only allowed to reopen on July 19 after being shut in March as part of covid19 regulations.

British High Commissioner Harriet Cross said in a tweet that her drive home, which usually takes eight minutes, turned into a journey lasting more than 80 minutes.

“Minor inconvenience for me. But feeling for the businesses and homes affected by the flooding,” she said.

Daniel Rivero walks along the St Ann's Main Road, St Ann's with his dog secured after heavy rains on Tuesday caused flash flooding in the area. - Jeff Mayers

In Port of Spain, the East Dry River overflowed, dumping water onto Duncan and Nelson Streets. The water converged on South Quay, leaving many commuters standing waiting for it to subside. Sludge and debris were left behind.

Cleanup operations were overseen by Port of Spain mayor Joel Martinez, Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein, and National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds.

Martinez described the scene as “unbelievable.” He said it was the first time since assuming office that he had witnessed such extensive flooding in the city.

“But what was good is that the water ran off quite quickly. But we have a lot of cleanup to do. We have a lot of families in distress and we will work as quickly as possibly to bring some relief.”

Hinds said the Organisation for Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) was mobilised in affected areas. He said Police Commissioner Gary Griffith had put things in place to allow  workers from the regional corporations to work through the night during the curfew hours.

He lamented that the residents of Nelson and Duncan Streets were severely affected, but said relief efforts will be heightened on Wednesday.


"Flood fury in northwest Trinidad"

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