Two-month-old baby among scores of Penal residents affected by flood

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Sara Baboolal holds her two-month-old baby as she speaks with Newsday about how the constant flooding is affecting her family. In the background is her husband Kevin Roopchan. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

A newborn baby was among scores of people affected by rising flood waters in Penal on Wednesday as murky water entered the family’s wooden home destroying several household items.

Newsday spotted two-month-old Sapphire Roopchan sound asleep in her mother’s arms in a makeshift tent at the front of the family’s house at Suchit Trace.

The parents, Sara Baboolal and Kevin Roopchan, said constant flooding over the past few years had taken a financial toll on them.

“To go through this every month, or every two months, is not easy. I do not know what I am going to do. Two weeks ago, we had a flood. When trucks pass through the flood water, the water hits the walls and shakes the house. Right now, the water is about 16 inches inside the house,” she said.

A man braves flood waters on Penal Rock Road on Wednesday. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

Baboolal said her two other children, ages ten and seven, went to stay with other relatives. She said other children constantly bully them for being poor.

“My husband works for small money. It is difficult for us to save money for a house when he has to constantly use it to buy back things because of the flood.

“We are living from paycheck to paycheck.

“After the big flood in 2018, we tried as best as possible to fix-up the house.”

Roopchan said people often “look down” on the family and even poke fun at their situation.

“Today, a driver stopped and asked her if we had cascadoux (mud fish) in the house because he wanted to catch some.”

Nearby, at Sunil’s Bar, water flooded the front of the property. Water was also seeping into the walls. A man at the bar said there were heavy rains from Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

Residents of Penal Rock Road stand on a bridge near the Kubairsingh Hindu Primary School on Wednesday, looking at their street, flooded water as far as their eyes could see. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

The flood water also marooned a Venezuelan family, including several children.

One, identified as Jose, told Newsday he was waiting for the water to subside so he could go to work.

“There is a lot of water in the apartment. We put items on higher ground so they would not be destroyed. I have to go to work because I have to pay the rent and take care of the family. If I do not work, I will not get paid,” Jose said in Spanish.

Parts of the Penal Rock Road in Penal were impassable. Several people turned around near the Kubairsingh Hindu School.

The Penal Quinam Road as well as parts of the SS Erin Road in Charlo Village and Syne Village, were also impassable.

Peter Sylvan of Penal Quinam Road said he was awakened around 7 am.

“I opened my eyes and put my foot on the ground to put on my slippers. When I looked down, the slippers were not there, and the place was flooded. The water went with my slippers,” Sylvan told Newsday.

He said he wanted to drink a beer and smoke a cigarette, so he went through the floods to get to a bar for the items.

Businessman Kishore Chatoo, of Charlo Village, said the water started rising since Tuesday night. The house and bar, Pour Decisions, are on the same compound. The bar had to remain closed owing to the rising waters.

Chairman of the Penal Debe Regional Corporation Dr Allen Sammy said he toured several affected areas.

Slippers in hand, this man walks through a flooded Penal Rock Road on Wednesday. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

“Some water along the Penal Rock Road went down, but the water is still high. The water is also high at Tulsa Trace, parts of the SS Erin Road, Rochard Road, as well as parts of Barrackpore and other areas.

“I am told it is going to get worse later. This is the worst flood we have had since 2018. This is our 19th flood within a few months.”

He added there was a major landslip along Wilson Road, and workers spent most of the day clearing the debris.

“I believe the rest of the hill would come down if more rains fall tonight. I am concerned about that and widespread reports of cracks appearing because of land movements.”

Sammy also promised to speak with the Baboolal/Roopchan family to see how he could help them.

Anyone willing to help the family can call Newsday at 607-4929.