A screenshot from a video posted on social media showing fire officers rescuing a woman and her children from their car after it stalled in flood waters in Chaguanas on Thursday. –
ROADS were turned into rivers on Thursday afternoon as a heavy downpour resulted in flash flooding in parts of North, East and Central Trinidad.
The northbound lanes of the Uriah Butler Highway at Chaguanas as well as the eastbound lanes of the Churchill Roosevelt Highway near Macoya and parts of the Priority Bus Route at Tunapuna became nearly impassable as high tides prevented the run-off.
The Disaster Management Unit (DMU) warned of traffic jams and asked motorists to be careful. The warning came a little too late as some motorists, caught unawares in the absence of any weather alerts from the Meteorological Office, tried to meander their way through the swirling flood waters.
Fire officers were called to rescue a woman and her daughters from their car, which stalled in the flooded area near Eleanor Road and Market Street, Chaguanas.
That Borough was one of the worst hit areas as knee-high water engulfed Caroni Savannah Road, near the corner of Medford Gas Station, IDC street, Endeavour Avenue, Xavier Street 10th Avenue and St Yves Street.
Presentation College, Chaguanas, was also flooded out. Chaguanas mayor Faaiq Mohammed said cleaning and restoring the school will be the priority.
“I think school is set to reopen on January 2. A disaster management team will be dispatched to the school on Friday to do an assessment. If it means we have to wash down the area, we will do so. Usually, when an area is flooded out, water seeps into the septic tanks, so we may have to assist with that as well.”
He said he was surprised to see knee-high water in some parts of the Borough. He said he was first alerted to the floods when someone called for sandbags as the roads became impassable.
“The rains fell in big drops consistently for about one and a half hours shortly after noon.”
He said the volume of water overwhelmed the drains’ capacity to store and move the water.
Mohammed said debris got caught in WASA lines that hang low in the drains, clogging the free flow of water.
He said he would soon be engaging WASA to either remove the lines or lift them to a higher level.
Replacing old culverts and ensuring zero tolerance for littering, he said, are also on the agenda for 2024.
Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi did not respond to calls from Newsday, but in a brief statement, the ministry strongly advised the public to exercise caution.
Anyone affected by the floods is urged to contact their relevant DMU hotline, the statement said.
Mohammed said there were a few incidents after the water ran off, but while cleaning areas where water seeped into some yards will have to be done, thankfully there were no major damage or incidents.