As the body of flood victim Anthony Walkes was retrieved from a river in Williamsville yesterday, there were calls for the waterways to be dredged and cleaned.
Walkes, 49, of New Grant, was walking through floodwaters in Hardbargain around 2.30 pm on Monday when the force of the current caused him to fall near a bridge. He was then swept into the raging river where he disappeared. Walkes was on his way home after visiting a friend.
Recalling how he tried to save Walkes when someone shouted that he was drowning, resident Matthew Jeet-Mewalal said he ran to the bridge but did not see him. He then still jumped into the neck-high water hoping that he could save him.
When the current started pulling him further into the water, however, he had to save himself.
“To be honest with you the current was really strong, I myself would ah go down with the current. I grab on to a dry bamboo and the bamboo pull me instead but the bamboo was not good and I had to grab a next one and then climb up the pommecythere tree and come out but I could ah go down too.”
When the floods subsided on Tuesday, the Office of the Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), the Fire Service and members of Defence Force searched the river in the Halls Trace area.
The search, however, was called off at 4 pm. Municipal police officers of the Princes Town Regional Corporation joined the search around 9 am yesterday.
Sgt St Louis-Jones said the body was found ten minutes later, submerged in the water near the bank.
She warned people to avoid walking or swimming in floodwaters. “Stay away from the floodwaters. Don’t think that it is okay and you could probably swim or make it through the waters because the waters are very dangerous so stay away from the waters.”
Blaming the floods on the clogged river, Corporation chairman Gowrie Roopnarine was hopeful that Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan instructs that the river be dredged.
“I really hope the Minister of Works sees this and understand how urgent this is because a life was lost. It is a sad situation. It is sad for the family and at this time we are liaising with Dass Funeral Home who is willing to assist to do the funeral free of charge for the family.”
He said Monday’s flooding which also left several families marooned was as a result of the clogged river.
He said there is a common misconception that the corporation is responsible for cleaning the rivers, but that falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry’s Drainage Division.
“The main reason for this flooding is this river was dredged in 2010 and after that, it was not dredged after that. This river is a major river connecting into the Guaracara river so the flood in the Hard Bargain area that we normally get if we get proper dredging in this area it will solve the problem.
Resident Rennie Maraj also complained about the state of the river.
“Higher authorities have to get involved because we getting too much of flooding…The dredging is not the only part of the problem, people dumping and we need some assistance.”
Meanwhile, Walkes’ sister Merlyn said she cried all night into yesterday. “Is only when I hear they find my brother then I feel a little release but I missing my brother too.”
She was not surprised that he was found in the area as she had a feeling that his body was close by.