Life in north-western and central Trinidad was disrupted yesterday following heavy thundershowers and gusty winds. The country remains under a yellow-level adverse weather alert until midday today.
The intense rainfall, which sent motorists and pedestrians seeking higher ground, began around noon and left many homes and businesses along the East-West Corridor, Caroni, and Chaguanas inundated with several feet of water. Businesses in Maraval were flooded when the river burst its banks. Also bursting their banks were the Morvant and the Diego Martin rivers.
The Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government (MoRDLG) recorded some 50 flooding events across the country, the bulk coming from the Port-of-Spain City Corporation and Chaguanas Borough Corporation’s jurisdictions. Floods were also reported in the following regional corporation’s areas of Diego Martin, San Juan/Laventille, Tunapuna/Piarco, Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo, Penal/Debe, San Fernando, and Siparia.
With reduced visibility and rising waters, traffic ground to a halt within the capital and for those attempting to head into the city. Motorists travelling towards south Trinidad on the highways had their commutes disrupted due to floods on the Uriah Butler Highway in the vicinity of Charlieville and on the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway in the vicinity of Freeport.
While the water receded quickly in many places, the damage caused by gusty winds left fallen trees along Lady Young Road, Morvant; the northbound lane in front of Maritime Plaza, Barataria; and Saddle Road, Santa Cruz. The MoRDLG said there were five instances of fallen trees yesterday. However, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management’s summary of confirmed events had the figure at 19-17 in the northwest region, one in the central region, and one in Tobago.
In all, the MoRDLG received 16 reports of damage to roofs. One of the hardest hit was Building Four of the Trou Macaque, Laventille HDC development as the heavy gusts ripped its roof completely off, affecting some 16 residents.
“When I moved into this 21 years ago, I was always of the assurance it was a sturdy building. Very strong. Very sturdy. Even with the serious earthquake we had, shockingly the buildings stood up,” top-floor resident Sheldon Charles told Guardian Media.
“Yeah, a couple of times the roof rattle, make a lil sound, make a lil noise but this experience was … it was unexplainable.”
Another resident, Emerlin Harding said she heard a loud bang immediately followed by her granddaughter’s loud screams. When she raced into the bedroom, she saw the roof missing but she was momentarily trapped while trying to evacuate her fourth-floor apartment. The apartments were subsequently flooded with residents losing almost everything.
Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds visited the building along with officials from the HDC and promised repairs would begin in short order. He said contractors working on Building Two, which burnt down some years ago, will be asked to postpone their current work and focus on rebuilding the roof.
HDC workers were on site yesterday evening to help affected residents remove damaged furniture, debris, and flush water from their units. Mattresses and food were also delivered to residents.
While the HDC development was among the worst hit in Laventille, the entire community was plunged into darkness. According to T&TEC, six large area outages were reported due to lightning strikes in South Park, Charlieville, Picton, Morvant, Laventille, and Maraval. It said work crews were dispatched to restore supply “in the shortest possible time, pending further weather challenges.”
Other affected communities included Belmont, Cascade, Barataria, and environs.
T&T is currently under a yellow-level adverse weather alert from the Met Office until noon today. It went into effect at 2 am yesterday.
The Met Office warned that heavy downpours can lead to isolated flood events that may cause temporary traffic disruptions and gusty winds may be experienced in the vicinity of heavy showers and thunderstorms. It said seas can also become agitated which may hamper marine activities.
Extra crews for restoration work in North-West
Meanwhile, T&TEC crews have been assigned to north-west Trinidad To assist with restoration activities after outages triggered by severe lightning activity and heavy winds.
Several areas across Trinidad were impacted by the mid-afternoon adverse weather but T&TEC’s Northern Distribution Area was most affected.
T&TEC said crews have been working continuously since then to complete restoration, with additional resources dispatched from other areas. Last night 11 crews were on the ground.
The following areas were still affected up to last night: Barataria, Belmont, Blanchisseuse, Cascade, Chaguaramas, Diego Martin, Laventille, Maraval, Morvant, Paramin, San Juan, Santa Cruz, and St Ann’s.
T&TEC apologised to customers for the inconvenience.