Ministers, MP witness flooding in Diego
By Lara Pickford-Gordon Saturday, September 14 2013
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FIRST HAND VIEWING: Diego Martin Central MP Dr Amery Brown, left, points to the destruction left by yesterday's thundershowers and flooding as he spok...
Minister of Water Resources and Environment Ganga Singh yesterday said hydraulic modelling and zoning were needed for high risk areas affected by flooding.
Singh along with his colleagues Minister of National Security Gary Griffith, Minister of Works Dr Surujrattan Rambachan and Minister of Justice Emmanuel George yesterday met with officials of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation, including chairman Allan Sammy, at the corporation’s office, Diego Martin Main Road, in the aftermath of torrential showers and flooding.
Speaking with Newsday, Singh said, “there are high areas for flooding no matter what you do. If you build on the banks of the river or path of the flood plain you are going to get flooding.” With more intense rainfall and increased run-off, he said infrastructure for retention was needed to mitigate flooding. He said the approach used for Port-of-Spain where studies were done and a plan developed had to be done for Diego Martin and other areas. Singh sympathised with the persons going through the “traumatic experience” of flooding.
“We are doing everything. A coordinated effort by government to see how we can return their lives to normalcy,” he said.
George, who lives in Blue Range, Diego Martin, said residents know how to recognise the “signals that flooding would take place.” He said the thunder, lightning, and heavy rainfall alerted him. From midnight, George was awake and at 1.30 am sent texts to other ministers that resources should be deployed before daybreak.
“I am happy all of the ministers did take heed and I also spoke to chairman Sammy so we were able to hit the ground very, very quickly.” George and Sammy were out and about from 2 am with a Defence Force truck. He said the Defence Force were “the first to hit the ground” clearing debris with a backhoe and trailer.
The Sierra Leone and Diego Martin Highway intersection, and Crystal Stream were targeted to ensure there was no build-up of traffic for persons going to work and school.
A home for the aged at Chuma Monka was visited and George said the Fire Service was deployed to assist with cleaning and sanitising. George and Sammy also visited other affected areas–Jean Avenue, Ann Avenue, Bagatelle, Texeira Street, Patna and River Estate.
George said they saw flooded homes and people who lost everything.
“I spoke to (People and Social Development) Minister Glenn Ramadharsingh at 5 am to have his people on the ground and assess the damage so that the issue of compensation for those persons could be addressed as soon as possible,” he said.
Rambachan said 530 workers were “on the ground” as well as eight backhoes, from the Water and Sewerage Authority. Red Cross personnel were doing assessments. He said “cess pool emptiers” from other regional corporations were enlisted to assist to ensure health and hygiene were not compromised. Rambachan later provided an update in the Parliament and said Prime Minister Kamal Persad Bissessar was notified of the flooding at 2 am yesterday and received regular updates during the day.
Chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation Anthony Sammy said from midnight to 2.30 am there were very heavy rains and lightning, thunder and heavy winds. Sammy said work was done to clear drains, but with the severe weather there would be flooding. He expected it to be minimised through work done. Sammy said the people in the Diego Martin region have learnt to be resilient and were cleaning up by the time he and George were on the scene.
Griffith said different arms of the ministry were involved — the engineering battalion of the Defence Force, National Security Operations Centre, Police Service and Fire Service. To prepare the country for natural disasters, he said a national emergency warning system and security alert were being developed for citizens to be aware of what was coming and what they needed to do.
The officials were due to meet again at 7 pm yesterday to review the situation.
Member of Parliament for Diego Martin Central Dr Amery Browne visited areas and described what he saw as “horrific.” He said “not enough” has been done by the authorities.
Browne said he had collected information on hundreds of drains and watercourses which had not been cleaned. Despite the adversity, Browne said there were acts of heroism. He said young men on Jean Avenue Extension and Mason Street were helping to evacuate elderly persons from their homes.