Weather ease, but Met Office says more rains ahead

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Tyrone Reece shows the household items he assisted his neighbour in placing on higher ground as her house Toco Main Road, Sangre Grande, remained flooded on Thursday. – Ayanna Kinsale

AFTER a forecast of rainfall on Wednesday into Thursday, which would have worsened flooding, the Met Office on Thursday afternoon reduced both its riverine and adverse-weather alerts.

The reduction from an orange-level riverine alert to yellow came as an ease to many, especially those in Sangre Grande who were bracing for increased flooding with the expectation that the Tamana River would have overflowed.

The yellow adverse-weather alert was downgraded to green.

In its 3 pm update, the Met Office said the levels at major rivers were on a downward trend although the El Carmen River, which feeds the Caroni River, was still at 94 per cent capacity. All smaller rivers were reduced to below 50 per cent and were receding.

Additional rainfall was expected overnight into Friday.

“This, in addition to high tides, can cause further run-off to be slow. As a result, there remains a moderate risk to public safety, livelihood and property.”

It said high tides are expected at 5.56 am and 5.18 pm on Friday. International meteorologist Brian Shields forecast that Trinidad and Tobago and parts of the eastern Caribbean will experience rainfall of up to 100 millimetres (mm) on Friday from a tropical wave sweeping through the Caribbean.

Local meteorologist Gary Benjamin said the forecasters had a lesser prediction for rainfall Thursday night into Friday.

He said that the forecast is that rainfall will be in excess of 25 mm but not reaching the levels of 100 mm.

From 2 pm on Wednesday to 2 pm on Thursday the Met Office calculated 20.7 mm of rainfall at Piarco and 42.6 mm at Crown Point, Benjamin said. He added that for the previous two days a tropical wave passed over the country with the trailing effects hitting between Wednesday night into Thursday.

“While we had an intense amount of rainfall overnight, we are seeing a bit of a lull now and we continue with light rain in most areas. We are seeing a lull this afternoon and into this evening, albeit we might have one or two lingering showers overnight. Sometime around midnight or after, we are expected to have an increase in the showery activity.”

While parts of Sangre Grande had water levels as high as six feet, by some estimations, on Wednesday, the water subsided as early as 3 pm, MP for Toco/Sangre Grande Roger Monroe told Newsday.

He said residents spent the day cleaning with a limited supply of water, which was turned off because of turbidity. There were requests for truck-borne water.

When Newsday visited Sangre Grande on Wednesday residents and chairman of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation Anil Juteram identified unplanned and improperly planned development as major contributors to the flooding. The flood water was also unusually orange, compared to the accustomed brownish-coloured water.

Monroe was asked if the discolouration was as a result of increased illegal quarrying in the constituency.

“I can’t say if it is because of illegal quarrying or because of development work, I can’t say at this time,” he said.

In preparing for more rains Thursday into Friday, Monroe said he appealed to the regional corporation to make advance preparations to avoid “scampering” as had happened on Wednesday. He added there were over 100 families who were affected and needed assistance on Wednesday.

His office, up to the time of the call with Newsday, was still gathering information on those affected and in need of assistance. Some areas, he said, were inaccessible on Thursday and contact will be made by Friday.

Although some people said they lost everything in the flood and had nowhere to sleep on Wednesday, Monroe said no-one sought assistance in terms of shelter overnight.