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Siparia Regional Corporation (SRC) chairman Dinesh Sankersingh tours one of the flooded areas in his area, yesterday.

KEVON FELMINE

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It took just 12 hours for the 75 millilitres of rainfall forecasted for all of yesterday to shower down on east and south Trinidad, resulting in flooding in several communities.

Overflowing watercourse flooded some homes in Palo Seco, Erin and Cedros.

Siparia Regional Corporation (SRC) chairman Dinesh Sankersingh said these areas are prone to floods during heavy rainfall.

Sankersingh said rain began on Thursday night and stopped for a brief period in the morning but returned hours later.

While there were mainly street floods, there were some homes affected. He said the SRC was assessing the situation up to the afternoon.

Meanwhile, Point Fortin mayor Saleema Thomas said there were street floods in usual areas like the Techier Main Road, Egypt Village and Point Liguore.

“Members of the council and myself were able to do a couple of assessments to ensure there were no new areas that flooded. The floodwaters subsided already. The Disaster Management Unit is doing a final assessment, and the Public Health Department is clearing the watercourse,” Thomas said.

The water level in the North Oropouche River rose yesterday, and there were street floods that spilt into residents yards.

Sangre Grande Regional Corporation chairman Anil Juteram said persistent rainfall would increase the chance of flooding in the North Oropouhce area. Juteram said when water from Tamana joins, it usually causes flooding in Sangre Grande.

“Keeping my fingers crossed because we have until noon tomorrow (today), please God. As you can see, the river has almost crossed and surpassed the halfway mark, so it does not look too well for us. I am hoping that the rain would stop to allow the water to go down,” Juteram said.

He also highlighted the heavy water retention on the Toco Main Road near Vega de Oropouche, riddled with large holes. Juteram said he understood that construction was ongoing on the “South highway” and called on the Ministry of Works and Transport to consider an exemption to resurface the road.

“We have situations where police cannot even respond to crimes and criminals activities because of the condition of the road. We have pregnant women, we have sick senior citizens, and it is very unbearable.”

In response, Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan said the allegations were false as construction across the country was shut down. Sinanan said the Ministry already issued a contract, and a contractor started repairs beginning with drainage work. However, he said that rainy weather halted work, and the government subsequently shut down the construction sector as part of its COVID-19 response.

Sinanan said the government granted permission to the Programme for Upgrading Road Efficiency (PURE) Unit to continue the roadwork as it realised the condition would deteriorate with further delay.

Regarding the North Oropouche River, Sinanan said that under an adverse weather alert, all watercourses would be affected. He said the Ministry is monitoring them.

While there was minimal damage to homes, the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) said heavy and consistent rainfall between Thursday and Friday interrupted operations at its Tompire, Matura, Aripo, Guanapo, Caura, Luengo & Naranjo and Acono water treatment plants. It was due to turbid river conditions and clogged intakes. The affected areas included Toco, Matura, Valencia, Arima, El Dorado, Tacarigua and Maracas, St Joseph.

WASA expects the affected facilities to return to service when conditions normalise at the various locations. It advised customers to manage their water use efficiently, as it may take up to 24 hours to restore their scheduled pipe-borne water supply.

The heavy rainfalls spared the vulnerable communities in the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation (MRCRC) and Penal/Debe Regional Corporation (PDRC). However, PDRC chairman Dr Allen Sammy is worried about the continued adverse weather.

The Meteorological Service forecast the current weather period to end at noon today. However, it expects rainfall until Tuesday.

Sammy said he would submit correspondence to Sinanan on Monday to detail 44 chokepoints along watercourses in the Region that falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Works.

He said the Region has 79 in total, and the PDRC is seeking to address the others but without sufficient resources.

“Here are the 44 chokepoints that contributed to the flooding in the form of crossings, bridges and watercourses. I will point out where they are using GPS coordinates and address. In my table, I will include a description of the issues. I will ask what are their plans, to work with us, to address the issue of flooding,” Sammy said.

While the ministry cleaned watercourses during the dry season, he said it only cleared where people lived, leaving the other areas with the potential to clog and cause flooding.