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Browne: Watercourses neglected
Diego Martin West MP Dr Amery Browne is calling on the relevant government agencies to make more “intelligent use” of the dry season. Browne spoke to the T&T Guardian yesterday on the anniversary of the Diego Martin floods which claimed two lives and caused nearly $100 million in damage.
Browne said since last year’s disaster he has been writing to the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, the Ministry of Water Resources and the Diego Martin Regional Corporation about the need for remedial work, cleaning of watercourses and erection of retaining walls. He said he also raised the issue in Parliament but the Government has “completely ignored” the issue.
On Saturday, Diego Martin residents were alarmed by flash flooding in the Crystal Stream and Chuma Monka areas. Browne said Saturday’s flooding was a warning sign. Reports that the corporation had cleaned most of the watercourses in the area were “false” according to Browne. He added that officials too quickly lay blame on residents.
“Every time we have floods, you have government spokespersons speaking out and blaming people for improper dumping of garbage. Yes, that is certainly a factor and heavy rainfall is an act of God and not of man. But when these watercourses are left in the state of neglect that we are seeing right now, it is obvious that whatever rubbish is present will be trapped in the drains and cause a complete obstruction. That is not just the fault of the residents. There are aspects of flood control within the power of the Government,” he said.
However, Diego Martin Regional Corporation disaster co-ordinator Jerry David said dumping is a major factor in the flooding issue. David also cited deforestation and unplanned development as other issues which have contributed to flooding. He said flooding was normal, but last year’s flooding was exacerbated by the unusual heavy rainfall and aforementioned contributing factors. David said if there is a similar amount of rainfall to last year’s in the area, he is certain the problem would be of the same magnitude.
Since last year’s disaster, David said the corporation has carried out training programmes for first responders and distributed sandbags and first aid kits. The last of these programmes was held last Saturday and another programme is scheduled for this Saturday, he said. Browne said he has been keeping in close communication with many of the hard-working members of the corporation, but believes too much focus is put on response as opposed to alleviation and prevention.
He described last year’s floods as “one of the worst natural disasters in our nation’s history” and “heartbreaking.” He added that there are many residents still in need of assistance.
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