Old stoves, fridges cause Diego flooding
By LARA PICKFORD GORDON Monday, August 12 2013
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Refuse floating in the Diego Martin river after heavy showers last Saturday. Officials said the dumping of waste and cutting of trees contributed to t...
The clean up following heavy showers and flash flooding was completed by the Diego Martin Regional Corporation at about 11 pm Saturday.
Indiscriminate dumping of waste by members of the public contributed to the problem and Minister of Local Government Dr Surujrattan Rambachan and Chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation Anthony Sammy yesterday appealed for people to desist from this practice.
Rambachan visited Diego Martin on Saturday to see conditions for himself.
He told Newsday he saw a lot of debris — “household effects — fridges, beds, stoves that can be collected by the Corporation. Please do not dump in the water courses.”
Diego Martin was declared a disaster zone after heavy showers on August 11 last year caused by landslides and when the Diego Martin river burst its banks. Two people were killed and some residents had to be relocated because their homes were badly damaged. The rainfall and flooding yesterday caused jitters among residents fearful of a repeat of last year. The car park of Tru Valu at the Wendy Fitzwilliam Boulevard Diego Martin was flooded while, Chuma Monka, Princess Margaret Street, Petit Valley were affected.
In an interview yesterday, Rambachan said the end of the Diego Martin Highway had water from the Diego Martin river. He saw clean up taking place at the Tru Valu car park at the Wendy Fitzwilliam Boulevard and was notified that this was completed by 11 pm.
Sammy was on site, with the Unemployment Relief Programme area manager, and personnel from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management. Rambachan said some drains still had to be cleaned but the flood had gone down.
“The Drainage Division under Ganga Singh has a comprehensive desilting programme throughout the country not only Diego Martin.”
He said work on clearing water courses had been taking place so Diego Martin was in a better position. Asked about the muddy flood waters, Rambachan said although people are not supposed to build above a certain height (following last year’s flooding the Ministry of Planning halted hillside construction above the 300 ft contour) people were still building on the hillside resulting in soil erosion. He said there was a programme to replant trees but this took time.
“I don’t think people understand the extent their actions cause damage to the hillsides.”
The slash and burn technique used for agriculture was creating “disaster zones.”
Sammy said the impact of the flooding was small and localised. These areas will be assessed and the underground drains looked at. The flooding at Tru Value happened because the grill on a drain was clogged by a plastic bag. He said the areas in Petit Valley located on the other side of the Diego Martin Highway experienced flooding because they were at a lower level than the river. The Corporation will work on “some engineering solutions so when water rises people on the other side have some form of protection.”
He said it was like playing “hide and seek” with persons who were cutting trees and clearing the hills, because no sooner are they stopped, these persons move to other areas. Sammy said “outsiders” were coming to Diego Martin to dump their rubbish, and appealed to the burgesses to notify him and the corporation. “Take photos and send them to the Chairman. We will deal with them.” He said litter wardens have to be alerted when this happens.
Sammy said weather patterns have changed and people should be prepared for the rainy season with their supplies. At a press briefing in June the TT Meteorological Services Division (MSD) advised citizens to be prepared and vigilant because a “wetter than normal” rainy season was forecast for this year. “Above normal rainfall” is expected in north, east, central, south-east, south Trinidad, and Tobago. Normal average is 1300 mm while above normal is 1500 mm.