Woodland still under water, clean-up operations hampered

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Angel Khan holds her son Aiden Bansgopaul, 6, as they walk through floodwaters near their home at Pluck Road, Woodland on Friday. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

Several parts of Woodland were still under floodwaters on Friday, and affected residents were hoping there would be no more rain, the like of which were seen earlier in the week.

They estimated it could take about three to four days for the water to subside.

On Thursday, the Meteorological Office downgraded its riverine alert from orange to yellow, and its yellow-level adverse-weather alert was downgraded to green. On Friday, the riverine alert was discontinued.

Angel Khan, of Pluck Road, said the family’s home had been flooded since Wednesday evening after the South Oropouche River burst its banks, cutting off scores of families.

“This is the worst flood we have had for the year. The water did not reach inside the house during the past few floods. We did not expect the water to reach inside. If we pump the water out of the house, where would we throw it? We have to wait for the water to go down,” Khan said.

She recalled that the flood was worse in 2018, so much so that they had to evacuate.

On Thursday councillor Doodnath Mayhroo of the Siparia Regional Corporation, and MP Davendranath Tancoo, handed out food. Good Samaritans also distributed food on Thursday and Friday.

Khan said flooding has become normal. In the past, she and relatives used to be ashamed to collect free meals from people. Now, that too has become normal.

She added that her pet dog, Timmy, went missing on Thursday.

Khan said, “He was here yesterday, running through floodwaters. Today I do not know where he is.”

Another affected resident Subrina Bansgopaul said scores of lilies in the nearby lagoon make it harder for the water to run off.

Some people risked their lives by walking through the floodwaters to get in and out of the communities to got food and other supplies for their families.

Bansgopual said, in 2017, 2018 and 2019, floodwaters had risen higher than in the past few days.

Although the water was going down, it was still high.

Newsday caught up with residents who caught fish in the river. Shawn Phillip and other villagers caught several granticai fish after two hours.

Shawn Phillip shows off his catch of granticai fish. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

Newsday could not get further into the village owing to the high volume of water still present.

On Friday afternoon, Tancoo issued a media statement saying he was denied the opportunity to raise, in the Parliament, the issue of flooding as a matter of urgent public importance.

He shared the letter he wrote to the Speaker on the issue, urging the Government to take immediate action to provide relief and assistance to affected communities.

“The matter is urgent as tens of thousands of citizens have been placed in life-threatening situations as their homes, vehicles, food supplies and access to proper drinking water have all been submerged by floods,” part of the letter said.

“The matter is urgent as thousands of medically vulnerable citizens have been severely compromised and placed in grave danger by these floods as their medication and medical-care equipment have all been submerged, while access to emergency care has been virtually cut off.”

The Opposition MP said the prevention of the debate on flooding was extremely unfortunate, especially after last week’s refusal to debate the crime situation. However, the Opposition MPs have the option of raising those issues as matters on the adjournment of the House.

“Even if we are prevented from raising and debating these matters in the Parliament, the Opposition will not be prevented from publicly challenging and demanding accountability from the Government.”

The flood devastated several past of the country over the past few days.

At Penal, the water had subsided, and residents were cleaning up on Friday.

In the aftermath of the flooding, at least two auto dealerships said there had been an increased demand for their services.

A worker at Xplicit Car Care in Penal said, “A lot of people would have reached out due to the flooding situation. I even had to do home visits to do repairs and cleaning.”

Anderson Ramsaran of Anderson Auto Detailing in Penal added, “A lot of people came due to water getting inside of their vehicles because of driving through the floods.

“I had to scrap down the inside of vehicles and thoroughly clean them so people can get them back as soon as possible.”

The Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government has been urging the public to contact the disaster management units of the municipal corporations if they were affected by the bad weather.