By Lara Pickford-Gordon
The Mundo Nuevo RC Primary building is condemned because of structural damage caused by incessant rainfall last weekend.
Flooding was widespread across Trinidad as was the damage on Saturday, November 26. There were also landslides in Tobago. Many people were trapped in their homes.
At the Mundo Nuevo school, a paved portion of the ground sank and cracked. Other cracks were visible running from the fence where the ground had dropped leading to the school building. The staff and students will be decanted to Talparo RC.
Chief Education Officer of the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) Sharon Mangroo said the Ministry of Education (MoE) is arranging transport for students, but the Talparo Road has been impacted by the flooding.
Mangroo said the CEBM is “working with the MoE to facilitate the continued provision of quality education to the students of Mundo Nuevo RC and appreciate the prompt attention and action by Permanent Secretary Kurt Meyer”.
She said the CEBM was grateful for Parish Priest Fr Roger Paponette and the parish of San Raphael for providing space to store furniture and equipment. The Mundo Nuevo staff were onsite late into Friday (November 25) and through the weekend to facilitate the move. “We are appreciative of their dedication,” Mangroo said.
There were other Catholic schools affected by the inclement weather: Basseterre RC, electricity disruption; La Lune RC, two classrooms flooded; Mayo RC, Standard Five RC class flooded; landslips close to the Rock River RC and St Benedict’s Primary St John’s Road, St Augustine; Hardbargain RC, access roads were inundated.
Roads, electricity, and water plants impacted
Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales today, Monday said the continued showers was according to the T&T Meteorological Service caused by a trough of low pressure 10,000 meters above Trinidad which has not moved.
Conditions were expected to improve tonight into tomorrow. When this happened the orange alert will be downgraded to yellow. Gonzales was
speaking at a media conference hosted by the Minister of Communications, Symon de Noriega for ministers to provide an update to the public.
After five days of rainfall, starting last Thursday, Minister of Local Government Faris Al-Rawi said “We have seen multiple breaches, in the low-lying areas, and high and low tide effect.” The weather system looked like a drizzle sometimes and heavy showers but it “has just not turned off.”
He said the average rainfall for November 2022 was 190 per cent of what the average would have been for a 30-year period, and over 100 per cent for Tobago.
Apart from flash flooding there were 83 “significant flooding events”, 41 were under “direct control” and the rest were being managed. Al-Rawi explained, “while flooding is going on, while water is raging, sometimes you just have to mitigate or make it as best as you can until repairs can be done.”
There were 137 landslides, 52 were repaired and 31 major reports of fallen trees i.e., those blocking roadways, 28 of these were addressed. Five downed power lines were repaired. He reported the Caroni, Bamboo Settlement #2 had 2-4 ft of water because the Caroni River burst its banks.
Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan said priority was given to “connectivity.” He said repairs were being done in areas where there were no other access roads—the North Coast Road, Paria Main Road. The road at Las Cuevas was closed because of culvert failure.
There were “culvert failures” and landslips along the road network in parts of the country. He urged caution, “Please do not go through floodwaters… and if you can avoid areas that are prone to landslips, please do so”, Sinanan said.
The Lady Young Road was opened but would be closed tonight for repairs to continue. There were two landslides in Chaguaramas this morning. Sinanan advised persons living in areas with landslides to make a report so an assessment can be done. High floodwater in very low-lying regions is stymying repairs both to clearing landslips and restoration of electricity.
Sinanan said Mayaro will “get a little worse before it starts to get better.” The area was a challenge because it is surrounded by the Ortoire River, the Atlantic Ocean and swamps. However, he said it was not cut off.
Gonzales said 16 surface water treatment plants in Trinidad were out of operation. In north-east Trinidad WASA personnel had to remove equipment from the Gunapo treatment plant because of rising water. It provides one million gallons of water daily, as a result pipe-borne water is disrupted to Arima and other areas.
A 16-inch major transmission line to a raw water treatment line in Aripo was damaged by a landslide. Repairs were to be executed. Gonzales appealed for the public to conserve water. Most areas in T&T had their electricity supply restored.
In the Gran Riviere/Matelot areas however, road accessibility was the challenge, so TTEC was working with Ministry of Works Programme for Upgrading Road Efficiency Highways division.