Sunday 24 March, 2019

Gov't says no national shutdown as T&T braces for more rain

It will be business as usual on Monday in Trinidad and Tobago as the Government has decided against a national shutdown even as many communities are still under water and more adverse weather is expected.

Stuart Young, who holds the portfolio of  Minister of National Security, said after all considerations, the Government has decided there will be no national shutdown.

"There are certain areas of Trinidad and Tobago that are still being affected that we will continue to do work on but we need our citizens who can get to work to continue along their daily lives to do so," he said. 

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday afternoon, he urged the "hundreds of thousands" of people not affected by the floods to go to work and exercise extreme care and caution.

Some schools will remain closed as they are being used as shelters while some were affected by the adverse weather.

He said consideration was given to a lot of different factors including a school holiday but that would put pressure on parents to stay home with their children.

Several communities in East, Central and South Trinidad as well as Tobago experienced severe flooding after heavy rainfall on Friday after several rivers burst their banks.

The Met Office warned earlier in the week that the islands would receive heavy rains with the possibility of flooding. due to an active Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The adverse weather alert was set at orange and raised to red. More rain is expected overnight.

On Friday night, many citizens reached out on social media to say their homes were flooded and roads were impassable. Government housing communities in Greenvale, La Horquetta and Oropune as well as communities close to the Piarco International Airport, further east in Sangre Grande and down south in Mayaro were heavily impacted.

In some cases, citizens took to their roofs to escape the rising flood waters. Man lost all their household belongings. There were no fatalities.

Giving an update on the situation on Sunday, Young, who along with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and others toured the affected areas on Saturday, said they again did an aerial survey and while the waters had receded in some areas, others were still flooded and roads impassable.

The southbound lane of the main highway, the Uriah Butler Highway, between North and South Trinidad remained closed due to high flood waters. Vans and SUVs  were allowed on the Northbound which was made into a dual carriageway.

Young said Police Commissioner Gary Griffith was asked to deploy extra police officers on the highway to prevent lawless driving. He urged those who need to come into Port-of-Spain from the South to carpool and exercise common sense. 

He also appealed to CoP to deploy more police on the ground in affected communities to prevent criminal elements from engaging in criminal activities.

Young said he walked door to door in Greenvale, where the water rose as high six feet and what he saw was heartbreaking.

"At times like this it very important that we bond as a country and do right for those faced with disaster," he said, commending those he saw rendering assistance in the community.

In the face of the disaster, private and corporate citizens rallied with many arranging drop off points for donations, cooking food for those in shelters and donating money and necessary supplies. 

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