Sat | Nov 17, 2018

Trinidad mobilises army to help flood victims

Published:Monday | October 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force and Red Cross help residents trapped by rising flood waters in St Helena, Piarco.
The southbound lane of the Uriah Butler Highway, south of the Grand Bazaar Interchange, remains impassable to all vehicular traffic.
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The Trinidad and Tobago military has been mobilised to carry out relief efforts in the twin-island republic following heavy flooding that has been blamed on three days of heavy rainfall.

Speaking to The Gleaner yesterday, Trinidadian journalist Renuka Singh, who works with the Trinidad Express, said that private-sector and other local groups have already offered to help persons impacted by the floods.

"It's massive!" she exclaimed. "What we have had is an unprecedented three days of rainfall that led to severe flooding in the Arima District, in the eastern part of the island, specifically Greenvale - that is a government housing area. It is almost nationwide. Just yesterday (Saturday), the Maraval River broke its banks, which is in the western part of the island. We have flooding in Maraval and Diego Martin. Early yesterday, there were also reports of flooding in Gasparillo, which is in the south, basically all cardinal points."

 

AIRLIFTING PEOPLE

 

The defence force has been busy airlifting people from their homes and citizens have utilised boats and rafts for either rescue or to move persons from one point to the next.

"People who were marooned had to be lifted out of their homes by the defence force with rafts. Some people actually brought out fishing boats and were volunteering to rescue people. People were in chest-high water trying to get out. We have been having a bit of difficulty coordinating because people are stretched thin right now.

"Trinidadians are resilient people. A lot of people have been volunteering. They have been cooking hot meals and have been delivering them. The Opposition has been doing the same thing. Government members have started handing out hampers and helping people with recovery efforts. Companies have started massive drives of donation to replace what people have lost. The government has gone on to say that they are going to take responsibility for replacing a lot of the items that the people would have had in their homes that were destroyed and they are doing this through grants," Singh told The Gleaner.

In a press release yesterday, Jamaica's Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamina Johnson Smith said that the disaster was an urgent indicator of the effects of climate change.

"While we are heartened to know that to date, there are no reports of loss of life, we are truly saddened to learn of the number of persons affected by the heavy rains and others trapped in their communities by landslides. This is yet another example of how the Caribbean is having to grapple with the very real effects of climate change," Johnson Smith noted.

She said the region need not only stand together in the aftermath of disaster, but to advocate in multilateral spaces for strong global action and financing.

"Jamaica will continue to work with its CARICOM colleagues more widely in this regard," she added.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com