Tropical storm wreaks havoc on southern communities

Point Fortin MP Kennedy Richards Jr drives through flood waters in Rancho Quemado after heavy rain associated with Tropical Storm Grace devastated the community on Sunday. - Marvin Hamilton
Point Fortin MP Kennedy Richards Jr drives through flood waters in Rancho Quemado after heavy rain associated with Tropical Storm Grace devastated the community on Sunday. - Marvin Hamilton

ALTHOUGH Tropical Storm Grace posed no direct threat to Trinidad and Tobago, the associated adverse weather wreaked havoc across the country on Sunday, resulting in death and destruction, especially in the Southland.

At Rancho Quemado, heavy rainfall caused several landslips, including one which uprooted a huge tree which fell on a home belonging to Christopher Samuel, toppling the wooden structure and killing Samuel in the process.

At Buenos Ayres, a hill collapsed onto the roadway, cutting off the commute between Erin and Point Fortin.

On the Siparia main road, a large portion of road past the Power Generation Company collapsed, making the road impassable.

The Ministry of Works in collaboration with the Siparia Regional Corporation (SRC) responded immediately, putting up detour signs and caution tape to warn drivers before assessing the damage for early repair.

Flooding was also evident on the roadway from Penal to Erin, while in Princes Town police featured in the rescue of a couple from rising flood water which trapped their vehicle.

La Brea MP and Labour Minister Stephen McClashie who spoke the Newsday during a visit to the Samuel family, said by late afternoon, Sunday, the SRC had helped to partially clear the road with the use of backhoes and excavators.

In a release, Rural Development and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein noted the bad weather the country had been experiencing was associated with Tropical Storm Grace.

Pelisha Baptiste picks up a tricycle from her yard in Rancho Quemado on Sunday. Baptiste and her family were among several households trapped in their homes by flooding on Sunday. - Marvin Hamilton

Hosein assured the public he was on the ground and the Disaster Management Units (DMU) remained on high alert.

Earlier the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (TTMS) had indicated that although the system posed no direct threat to TT, there was the likelihood of rain and or showers, a high chance that some of the rainfall activity may become heavy and thundery with the threat of gusty winds.

It also predicted street/flash flooding and localised ponding, as well as, the likelihood of landslides/landslips in areas so prone. Seas can become agitated at times in sheltered areas, it said.

The Local Government Ministry acknowledged that Sunday’s heavy rainfall, an effect of the tropical storm’s outer band, caused flooding, landslides and fallen trees.

The DMU said it received reports of street flooding and fallen trees in Port of Spain, San Juan/ Laventille and Siparia. There were also reports of residential flooding in Penal/Debe and street flooding in Princes Town.

The release said, “A few homes were also impacted throughout the country, some members of the public were temporarily rendered stranded and some roadways became impassable.

“The DMU were mobilised and assistance was given by the TT Fire Services. All roadways have been cleared and assessments will continue when it is safe to do so.

"The DMU has ensured that sandbags are available for distribution, covid 19 compliant Emergency Shelters are ready to be activated if needed, mitigation tools such as chainsaws and brush cutters and relief items are all ready in the event that burgesses are severely impacted. The Ministry advises that its DMU personnel stand ready and equipped to mobilise and co-ordinate in the event of flooding and any other hazards.

“Citizens are reminded to be prepared, stay updated and to contact their respective DMU for sandbags if needed.”

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