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Families ravaged by flash flooding in West Trinidad

Met Office: Conditions expected to improve this afternoon
Friday, September 13, 2013
The flooded kitchen at the Corbie residence on Hillaire Street, Diego Martin on September 13, 2013. PHOTO COURTESY: DEREK GOODING

Several families from the Diego Martin area have been forced to evacuate their homes after steady rainfall caused severe and widespread flooding in West Trinidad early this morning.


To see more photos, click here.


The heavy showers were caused by a low pressure system that should improve by 2 pm.


Meteorologist at the MET Office Piarco, Saide Shakeer, said the heavy rainfall in the Diego Martin area is not expected to occur again as the system improves.


Although more rainfall is a possibility, Shakeer said it should not be more than 10 to 20 milliliters. After 2pm, she said, the system is expected to gradually improve into a settled night.


"The system," she said, "is associated with a broad area of low pressure centered to the north-east of the Eastern Caribbean Islands. This low pressure system has a low chance of developing into a tropical cyclone. A less than 10 per cent chance."


For the rest of the morning and day, she said, there will be cloudy conditions and periods of rain.


Shakeer cautioned mariners in the Gulf that there could be choppy seas because of winds out of the south west. The winds, she said, should return to an easterly direction from tomorrow.


Meteorologist on duty at Crown Point, Tobago, David Gajadhar, also said there should be slow improvement over the next 12 to 24 hours. He said the system deposited approximately 24 millilitres of rainfall on the island.


Dr Stephen Ramroop, CEO of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM, said the impact of heavy rains in Diego Martin today was lessened because of work done in the area.


While one cannot prevent flooding, the impact of flooding can be mitigated, he said.

In a phone interview with the T&T Guardian this morning, mere hours after heavy rains resulted in widespread flooding throughout Diego Martin and Petit Valley, Ramroop said he was happy with the first responder agencies. Fire officers were among the first responder agencies who responded to calls from residents. Last year, he said, many residents were unaware as to which agencies they could call to assist them. This year, he said, however, many more residents were aware of calling the office's emergency hotline 511 to receive assistance.


"They listened to the calls and went out to places critically affected," he said.


Agencies such as Ministry of the People and Social Development, Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), Community-based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) were at the Diamond Vale community centre ready to respond to residents who needed a place to stay. He said there was a coordinated effort to the address the disaster.


MP for Diego Martin Central, Dr Amery Browne, said he was in the area from as early as 2 am.


"I have seen some sites and heard of experiences no families should have to endure."

He said families living in streets such as St Lucien Rd, Temple St, Jean Avenue, Gopaul Avenue, Hillarie Street, Chuma Monka, Petit Valley, were greatly affected by the flood waters.


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