Heavy rains slow down business
By Sasha Harrinanan and Darcel Choy Friday, August 24 2012
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People wade through the flood waters at South Quay in Port of Spain following heavy overnight rains. ...
Heavy rains overnight into yesterday morning, associated with Tropical Storm Isaac, caused flash flooding in certain parts of Port-of-Spain, in Morvant and Barataria, but Diego Martin and environs were spared another round of devastation
While there was minimal physical damage yesterday from the rains though, quite the opposite held for the economy of the capital city. The usual hustle and bustle along the streets and sidewalks of “Town” was noticeably absent. One woman told Newsday “today feels like a Saturday, not a weekday. It only took me 40 minutes to drive from San Fernando to Port-of-Spain today. When I left home at 10 am, I expected traffic on the highway, but aside from a few pockets of traffic, it was easy driving all the way to the lighthouse by Broadway.”
Food courts in several malls were virtual ghost towns, with trays full of steaming Creole, Indian and Chinese dishes waiting to be sold, but only a handful of patrons were on hand to buy food. A similar situation was observed at branches of banks along Independence Square. The normally long lines to the teller were nonexistent.
Why was PoS “half-empty” yesterday?
According to an informal survey conducted by Newsday, many heeded a 9 am advisory from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) “to delay their travel by four hours (1 pm).”
Others from east and west Trinidad were already en route when they got stuck in flood-related traffic and were forced to return home until the waters had receded.
Commuters and drivers using the Eastern Main Road or the Priority Bus Route at about 7am yesterday found themselves stuck in major traffic jams because of floods at the Maritime roundabout in Barataria and the Morvant Junction along the Eastern Main Road.
The water was so high and traffic at a standstill for so long, many private vehicles and most maxi taxis turned around and headed back east on the outskirts of Barataria.
Diego Martin resident Diana was forced to turn around after sitting in traffic for a while. “It took me an hour on the Diego Martin Highway to drive from Crystal Stream to the Petit Valley turn off by Four Roads. Even in normal traffic I usually make that drive in ten, 15 minutes so I decided to get off the highway and head back home until the flood waters on Wrightson Road had gone down, by which time the traffic would have eased up as well,” Diana said. She also told Newsday the ODPM advisory played a key role in her decision to return home yesterday morning. “When I heard on the radio that they were advising people to avoid Town for the next four hours, I knew it made no sense staying in that traffic.
At 11.30 am, the ODPM issued another advisory, this one telling the public it was safe to enter the city.
Meanwhile students who did make it into the city were met with closed doors at two tertiary institutes because of flood waters in the vicinity of their campuses — the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s John Donaldson Campus on Wrightson Road and the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT) on Melville Lane.
In related news, the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) issued a statement explaining that due to heavy and persistent rainfall, several water treatment facilities in North Trinidad and a few in Tobago were shut down as a result of clogging of the intakes with silt and debris and problems with turbidity.
The plants that were affected include the Tompire Waterworks, Matura Portable Water Treatment Plant, Quare Water Treatment Plant and Guanapo Water Treatment Plant. In Tobago the Hillsborough West Water Treatment Plant, Courland Water Treatment Plant, Charlotteville Intake, Highlands Road Water Treatment Plant and Richmond Road Water Treatment Plant.
The Authority said it expected these facilities to return to normal operation once favourable weather conditions continue. WASA advised that customers in the affected communities could expect to experience an interruption in their scheduled water supply.
At 3.30 pm, the Met Service sent its final bulletin on Isaac — now south of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It said the storm was continuing to move westward across the Caribbean Sea and further away from the Windward Islands. At about 3 pm, the Met Service sent its final flood bulletin, stating that reports received from the Water Resources Agency revealed the levels of all major river courses were receding except for the Caroni River. Although rising trends in the Caroni River were observed, it remained contained and not critical, the Met Service said, adding that meteorological analysis suggests that rainfall activity associated with feeder band activity has decreased but periods of light rain or showers were forecast for this morning.