ON the heels of Hurricane Dorian, which delivered such telling blows on the people and infrastructure in the Bahamas, Tropical Storm Karen came swiftly, visiting us here in Trinidad and Tobago last Sunday.
In the main, the havoc wrought in communities in different parts of the country had to do with flooding left in the wake of the heavy rains. People in some communities are still reeling from the impact of the flood waters. And just two days ago, those in Bamboo Settlement Number 3, were still appealing for assistance.
Over in Tobago, several communities were hit, also with flooding, some with landslides and in others, bridges came down. There were numerous power outages, with the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) moving commendably into high gear. Such was the case that by Wednesday, T&TEC was reporting that there was near complete restoration of electricity in those affected areas.
In Greenvale, the community hit hard by the floods a year ago, tense and anxious residents were thankful that their worse fears were not realised.
For several days in a row, a team of Government ministers was in place, monitoring the developments and reporting to the country via news conferences. Their assessments and the reports of the responses of the agencies and the workers under their respective areas of responsibility played well with public sentiment. In one of his reports during the post-storm updates, the Works and Transport Minister made a point of noting that he had been seen as overdoing the advice on how the ministry had been involved in “de-silting” of areas prone to flooding. He said the result of this was that where flooding may otherwise have been the natural consequence of the heavy rains which came with Karen, this did not materialise. Along with the Minister of National Security, Minister Sinanan also said the significant rehabilitative work which was carried out in Greenvale resulted in the fact that there was no recurrence of the last year’s trauma.
The Minister of Local Government also praised the workers of the much-maligned CEPEP organisation for the speed and efficiency with which they responded to the clean-up operations in several communities.
That being said, there remain cautionary tales from this latest experience, as related by some of the reporting ministers. Minister Young, for example, felt constrained to remark on what he saw as the “irresponsible behaviour” of residents in some communities, in stealing material from sites where river banks had been built up.
“All you need is one breach,” the Works Minister said, noting the hazards such activities posed for rivers overflowing their banks and causing untold misery for others. The Agriculture Minister talked also about such uncaring actions of others which contributed to unusual flooding in parts of Mt Lambert.
Citizens should henceforth heed such warnings and employ the necessary corrective behaviour as precautions against possible catastrophe the next time around.
Such advice seems appropriate also, for those citizens throwing caution to the wind, by insisting on visiting the site of the Piparo mud volcano.