Penal/Debe residents worried about more flooding

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Tulsa Trace, San Francique resident Govin Rambally is followed by his dogs as he makes his way to collect foodstuff for his family on Tuesday. The area has been under floodwater since last Friday. – ANGELO MARCELLE

TRUDGING through muddy brown water which turned the road to his Tulsa Trace, San Francique home into a river for the last four days, 48-year-old Govin Rambally is concerned about ongoing flooding and the effect it is having on him and his family.

His concern is shared by Penal/Debe Regional Corporation chairman Dr Allen Sammy and his councillors who said they continue to be starved of funding and resources to mitigate flooding in the Penal/Debe area.

When Newsday visited Tulsa Trace on Tuesday, Rambally made a long trek in tall rubber boots through floodwaters to a nearby bridge where relatives came with bags of food and medicine to take back to his wife and two sons, ages eight and two. They were in their house towards the end of the flooded road. His family’s two dogs followed closely behind him as he sloshed through the water to reach the bridge.

Tall thick grass clogged a watercourse on either side of the bridge, creating pools of stagnant brown water which also had garbage floating in it.

Rambally’s car was parked on a piece of dry land on the other side of the bridge, because he did not want to risk it shutting down in the water if he attempted to drive home.

He has lived in Tulsa Trace his entire life.

Flooding in the area is something Rambally has become accustomed to in Tulsa Trace.

“We have flooding that was higher than this because of that river there”

As he pointed towards a nearby cluster of trees and dense bushes which were surrounded by muddy water, Rambally said the Godineau River is the major watercourse which flows through the area.

“You see the condition of it. It is really bad.”

Asked who raised the bank on the Godineau River, Rambally said, “That would be the Ministry of Works and Transport.”

The water on the road leading to his house has been there since August 26.

This house at Gopie Trace, San Francique, has been completely surrounded by water since last Friday. – ANGELO MARCELLE

Rambally said it has become routine now for the water to remain on the road for at least three days before running off. Contributing to this problem was a nearby minor river which was clogged by thick bushes and other debris.

Rambally said the corporation is responsible for that drain, but it has not been cleared for over a year.

While he can still make the trek back and forth through the water to reach his car and go to his job in San Fernando, Rambally said one of his neighbours cannot do that.

“She has to take some time off.”

Another reason Rambally parked his car near the bridge, was to be able to go and buy food and other items for his family if he needed to.

“The problem is that Monday school is starting, and how am I getting the children out through the water.”

Rambally is concerned about his eight-year-old son’s ability to go to school next week.

“If this (flooding) continues. This (water) is not going down. If the rain comes it (water) is not going to go down. I don’t know how we are going to get him out (to school).”

Rambally reiterated that the last time he saw a dry road in front of his home was August 25.

“It comes up like today, and two days, three days after, it goes down.”

He said the situation does not happen if the Godineau River does not breach its banks and if the nearby minor river is clean.

The latter, he continued, has decreased in width from 50 to ten feet because of the amount of bushes and debris in it. “Watch how the water is running inside.”

At Ramcharan Trace, an elderly resident, who declined to give his name, said half of the road had been under water for the last two days. He claimed, “A man’s car shut down in there about 5 o’clock this morning.”

The situation was the same at Gopie Trace where a nearby river had overflowed from its channel, bringing floodwaters right up to the doorstep of one house. A resident living nearby said the occupants of that house had not been there for days.