Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 22nd 2017 Contents A10 news
guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 22, 2017
Cipero River cleaned after seven years
The Cipero River has not
been dredged for seven years
but after the passage of Trop-
ical Storm Bret, San Fernando
Mayor Junia Regrello person-
ally supervised its cleaning
Regrello, who served as deputy
mayor for three years, said he did
not know the river needed dredg-
ing and it was only when Bret
passed and homes were flooded
he realised huge trees had grown
up in the middle of the river at
Green Acres. He said then UNC
councillor for the area Bishop
Jankie Raghunanan never raised
"It is amazing that when the
river was last dredged seven years
ago, the contractor piled the silt
from the river at the centre of the
roadway," Regrello said.
"The silt was left on the road,
trees and grass were allowed to
grow and it became impossible
to pass. Residents from Akadian
Avenue no longer had access to
connect to Hill View Drive."
Asked why this was allowed to
happen under his watch, Regrello
said: "This wasn't cleaned before
because nobody made mention of
it to us. It was the responsibility of
the councillor to raise this matter
at one level."
Councillor for Les Efforts An-
derson Williams said the dredging
will not be a one-off event.
"We are clearing the slush and
drainage so that in the event of
further rainfall we won't have
problems. This is not a one-off
fix. There will be continuous
maintenance," he said
Williams said once the road is
cleared the city engineer will as-
sess its condition and do repairs.
Residents who suffered loss of
property because of the flooding
said they were grateful the project
was finally being done.
"It should have been cleared a
long time ago but we are happy for
this," Russel Beepath said.
Another resident said she want-
ed the river to be cleaned regularly,
since the clogged watercourse is
responsible for most of the flood-
ing in the community. --- RD
Even as flood waters backed up into
dozens of houses along Pluck Road,
Woodland, yesterday, the Oropouche
sluice gates remained shut, triggering
frustration among dozens of household-
ers who tried desperately to keep floods
The sluice gates control water levels and
flow rates in the Gordineau River, which fun-
nels out of the Oropouche basin and into
the Gulf of Paria.
When the T&T Guardian crew visited the
area yesterday, an expanse of flood waters
could be seen throughout the Woodland
plains. Flocks of egrets feasted on grubs,
while herds of cows, goats and sheep could
be seen standing on higher ground.
Among those affected were Narine Sonny
and his family, who were seen packing sand
bags around their flooded home. However,
the force of the floods burst through the sand
bags, sending mounds of sand, silt and slush
into their living room.
"At this rate we are going to have floods
for the next week. We have not experienced
this kind of floods since 1993," Sonny said.
His son, Donnie, said the flooding was
exacerbated by the shut sluice gates.
"If they don't open up the flood gates to
allow the water to run off we are going to
have a lot of problems," Donnie said.
Several areas remained impassable up to
noon, including Rahamut Trace and Dwarlal
Trace. About four feet of water remained on
the roadway as the Oropouche River burst its
banks. Access to Siparia from Woodland was
restricted, so motorists were forced to use
alternative routes through the SS Erin Road.
Councillor for the area Vijai Rampersad
said although the flood waters were high,
there were no reports of residents in need
of evacuation. He said Batchya Trace, Gopie
Trace and Suraj Trace remained impassable
for several hours, while the Tulsa Trace pic-
nic site was totally flooded out. Andrea Ram-
dial, who lives near the site, said residents
had no way of coming out of the flooded
"I think we will be marooned for the next
48 hours. We have milking cows and since
yesterday we have not been able to find them.
My husband out all morning and we cannot
leave the community because traffic is not
flowing in all directions," Ramdial said.
She also said her baby chicks and chickens,
which were cooped up since the passage of
Tropical Storm Bret, had not been fed.
"We cannot get to the coops because of
the floods. We don't know if they washed
away," she added.
Ramdial also said there needed to be better
control of the sluice gates. She added that
some of the sluice gates near the Black Water
Channel and the Three Mouth River have
also not been functional. The gates fall under
the jurisdiction of the Works Ministry but
efforts to contact Minister Rohan Sinanan
were unsuccessful yesterday.
However, Agriculture Minister Clarence
Rambharat said the gates were most likely
shut to prevent salt water intrusion.
"We have an operator on site who lives in
the area. Sometimes the gates are kept closed
to avoid salt water intrusion. If those resi-
dents are on the fresh water side, it may be
the reason that the gates are closed. He said
water will have to be pumped out of the area."
After Bret wreaks havoc in Moruga
RADHICA DE SILVA
Defeated and frustrated,
Moruga farmer Clifton Cok-
er went back into the Trinity
Hills forests yesterday to cut
logs to rebuild his home after
it was smashed by a fallen tree
during the passage of Tropical
Storm Bret on Monday.
The Coker family was one of
five families from the Tableland/
Moruga district who escaped death
when gusty winds torn down trees
which flattened their homes.
His two-bedroom house at
Edward Trace crumbled under
the weight of a tree shortly after
midnight on Monday. All of his
furniture, appliances and other
possessions were destroyed.
Coker's neighbours assisted him
late into Tuesday night ,but they
were unable to erect the shed on
time so Coker and his eight-year-
old son Christian had no choice but
to spend the night in their car.
The roofs of 55 houses blew off
and dozens of houses at La Rufin,
Basse Terre, La Savanne and Marac
remained under water yesterday.
However, there was some relief
for the region, as T&TEC gener-
al manager Kelvin Ramsook said
electricity was restored to most
areas in the South eastern regions
up to midday yesterday.
In an interview yesterday, Coker
said he was able to salvage some of
his galvanize sheets to erect a shed
using the forest logs.
"That will have to do for now. We
got a mattress from the councillor
and we had a place to secure our
clothes and the mattress. I am hop-
ing that the Government will give
me a grant to rebuild," Coker said.
Asked if he planned to sleep in
the car for a second night, Cok-
er said no. Although the shed is
not barricaded, he was taking his
chances sleeping in the shed, rath-
er than the car.
"I think if I stay in the car one
more night I won't be able to walk
tomorrow. Right now, my legs ach-
ing because I am accustomed to
sleeping stretched out."
He said his son, who attends
the Basse Terre RC school, lost
his books. His uniform, dirty with
mud, was found under the debris.
Meanwhile, a La Rufin, Moruga
single parent mother Diane Abra-
ham and her four children - Lyn-
fah Forgenie, 17, Anthony Forgenie
14, Lindsay Phillip, nine and one-
year-old Kaydee John - went to bed
hungry on Tuesday after all their
possessions washed away in the
Rescue crews had difficulty
reaching the family early as they
live about 100 feet from the flood-
ed La Rufin River. Abraham said
her baby had no milk and all the
family's money and possessions
"The MP, Dr Lovell Francis,
visited us but he didn't bring an-
ything. He made sure that the place
got cleaned out. The councillor
came and brought three mattresses
and that was what we slept on last
night," Abraham said.
Nicole Dhanraj, whose roof also
blew off, managed to get help to
clean up her flooded home yester-
day. Crews mobilised by Francis
spent the day clearing away debris
and pumping out water from the
Coordinator of the Moruga Pov-
erty Reduction Centre, Nathalie
Patrice, spent the day reaching
those who were affected by the
Distributing clothing, cooked
meals, bedsheets and towels to
the affected families, Patrice said
the devastation was real for many
"We have a thrift shop and right
now all the clothing that was do-
nated is being distributed to the
affected families. We are trying to
reach as many people as possible,"
She added that Francis donated
100 hampers to affected families
but not everyone received assis-
Lovell, on his Facebook posts,
thanked Ramdial Transport for
assisting residents with pumping
water from their homes. He also
lauded Persad's Supermarket for
donating bottled water and ham-
pers. However, he said because of
the magnitude of the disaster he
needed at least 200 more hampers.
"People need bottled water, dry
goods, clothes and beds were wet.
I personally distributed 100 ham-
pers but it was simply not enough,"
He said the police, army, as well
as volunteers from Cepep, URP
and community councils assist-
ed in clearing debris and clean-
ing houses. "Anything we can get
now to distribute will be extremely
helpful," Francis added.
A vehicle remains parked in a damaged garage along the Moruga Main Road yesterday. A tree uprooted by
high winds associated with Tropical Storm Bret fell on the structure. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
A backhoe from the San Fernando City Corporation is used to clear
debris at Bonanza Gardens, Green Acres, Gulf View, yesterday.
PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
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