|PoS, a big lake |
By CAROL MATROO Thursday, August 7 2014
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FLOOD WALK: These women walked through almost knee-high water on the pavement off Charlotte Street as one hour of showers led to major flooding in are...
ONE HOUR of heavy rainfall was enough to transform large sections of downtown Port-of-Spain, the nation’s capital, into a giant lake. Operations at City Gate — the main transportation hub in the city — ground to a halt as flood waters covered the entire road and pavement on South Quay in a matter of minutes.
Just after midday, pedestrians and motorists were stranded as water from the neighbouring hills and environs gushed down into the capital city. Garbage bins were seen floating in the roiling, murky waters. An unfortunate motorist had to abandon his car after he attempted to traverse the path along South Quay.
Pedestrians, either too late for their destination or just did not care about what was in the water that gushed against their legs, took their chances. Members of the Defence Force later came to the rescue of a man, helping him to remove his car from the flood waters. A woman was fortunate enough to have a soldier carry her “piggy-back” style from the rushing water to the safety of the pavement at City Gate, much to the applause of onlookers. As easily as the waters rose, it receeded half an hour after the rains stopped.
Deputy mayor of PoS Keron Valentine said the major problem regarding flooding is that Port-of- Spain is located below sea level. “Everywhere south of Independence Square has been flooded out. The downfall came just around when we were experiencing high tide, so from Duncan Street to Independence Square, there was water everywhere, making it impossible for light vehicles or pedestrians to manoeuvre,” Valentine said. He added the City corporation’s Management Disaster Team responded to the call of what could have been potential disaster, headed by Keith Cook (disaster management coordinator).
“The first thing we did was to call in the police so that law and order was maintained. Our disaster management team has been liaising with other state management teams to ensure that things come back to some level of normalcy,” Valentine said. He said it was fortunate that the water subsided quickly. Valentine said this was his second term as deputy mayor and during his last term, attended meetings with Minister of Water Resources and Environment Ganga Singh with respect to plans for clearing of water courses and cleaning and dredging of underground drains. Valentine said under the Municipal Corporation Act, main water courses were cleaned and maintained by the formerly known Works Drainage Department. This has since been placed under the Ministry of Water Resources.
“They are in charge of cleaning major water courses. The minor water courses within the city and environs are maintained by the PoS Corporation,” Valentine said.