Floodwater which broke the banks of rivers, flowed down streets and saturated the lands, proved more than an inconvenience as reports of landslips, water contamination and flooding in the streets left thousands without water, several without electricity and caused walls in people’s homes to fall because of land slippage.
Houses in danger in PoS
Land slippage threatened homes in the Port of Spain and Diego Martin Regional Corporations causing walls and trees to fall and threatening the very foundations of some homes.
Newsday went to Barton Lane, Belmont, where Roland Ochasingh, who lived in his house with his mother for more than 50 years had the wall at the front of their house collapse at about midday on Sunday.
“I just heard a loud noise. I didn’t realise that it was the wall that fell,” Ochasingh said. “One of the neighbours came and told me that my wall fell down.”
He said he put up the wall about 12 years ago, with a foundation four feet deep and three feet wide. But the consistent rain which fell most of Saturday night and into Sunday morning, saturated the soil to a point where the wall could no longer hold.
“The water just kept coming through. Eventually it threw down the whole wall.”
Belmont councillor Nicole Young told Newsday she visited the area and asked the disaster response unit to assist.
Officers arrived at the scene and supplied Ochasingh with large plastic sheets to cover the affected land and prevent it from getting even more saturated. She said in the longer term he would be assisted in getting home repairs.
She said land slippage also affected a lamp pole further up on Barton Lane. The Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) were notified and were assessing the damage.
Flooding, landslips in Maraval
In the Diego Martin Regional Corporation, Chairman Sigler Jack told Newsday residents of Grapefruit Crescent Haleland Park, Maraval was one of the worst affected as water cascading down from the mountains made the road impassible.
“This always happens,” he said. “The way the development there was laid out it settles in the middle of two mountains which forms a valley. When water comes down Grapefruit Crescent becomes a river.”
He said people in Maraval were also affected by land slippage and people in Paramin and Cameron Hill were affected by fallen trees. In Cameron Hill a large mango tree fell cutting off electricity to the community.
Both Jack and Young said people who built their homes on an incline are being affected by land slippage, even more so as rain has been consistently falling for a week saturating the soil.
An adverse weather warning was issued on Saturday, for between 2 am to 6 pm as a result of passing tropical storm Grace. The warning has since been taken down.
Council woman calls for overpass drain to be cleared
In the Tunapuna Regional Corporation, J-Lynn Roopnarine, councillor for Curepe/Pasea said while residents would not normally be affected by water entering their homes. But she said flooding in the streets and on the walkways in the region leave mud, silt and sediment on the road, causing an inconvenience and a health risk.
She said the situation has worsened since the Curepe interchange was built. Three drainage cylinders installed to take water are not enough to contain the Blackman River which passes under the interchange, according to Roopnarine and as a result water is backing up into the streets. She added that one of the cylinders is now being blocked by shrubbery and small trees which have grown in the river.
“It has been months now that we have been trying to get the Ministry of Transport to clean that river. The bush has overgrown the cylinder and there are big trees with big trunks in the river,” Roopnarine told Newsday. “The passageway is already narrow. It cannot take the volume of water coming down there. Now the water is backing up.”
She said she has received several calls from residents complaining of water reaching as far as their driveways.
Roopnarine noted that while the water is not causing damage to people’s homes or property it is causing roads to be less accessible and dirtier.
“Vehicles cannot go into their yards, they cannot leave their driveways. If they drive on it the vehicle gets muddy. Some people who have kitchens outside, it would get flooded out. Water gets into people’s driveways where they have kitchen appliances like freezers and so on. Plus when the sun comes out people have to deal with dust.”
No water in Toco
Valencia East/Toco Councillor Terry Rondon told Newsday the Tompiere River in Toco overflowed its banks, polluting the water lines managed by the Water and Sewerage Authority, and leaving at least 7,000 people without water.
“Every time that river overflows its banks people have problems to get water,” said Rondon. “WASA has to wait until the water settles for them to re-connect the supply. For the longest while they have been without a filter so when the river overflows its banks they have to wait two to three days before residents could get water again.”
Rondon said Balandra and surrounding areas are seriously affected by this issue, but the residents are normally supplied with truck borne water.
“It is a serious situation. I hope it is dealt with soon so the people of Valencia East/Toco can be given a regular supply of clean water.