T&T floodgate company says sales doubled this year
Photo: A flood gate constructed by Flood Barrier Systems for a company in Barataria.
One local company specialising in floodgate solutions says their sales have doubled due to increasingly heavy rainfall over the past few months.
Managing Director of Flood Barrier Systems, Leslie Dookie, said he has been in the business of door construction and design for over 40 years and noted not only an increase in requests for floodgates but has noted a change in the locations where the floodgates are being requested.
“This year we have seen a 160 percent increase in the requests for flood gates over the past eight months.”
“It’s good for business but bad for the homeowner because of course it means extra costs. Every time a homeowner hears rain falling on his roof he’s going to be anxious and worry whether his home is in danger. It’s not a nice feeling,” he said.
Dookie said he has also noted that the requests for floodgates have grown to encompass not only the north-west part of Trinidad but parts of Central and South Trinidad.
“We are seeing a pattern. In the first instance we mostly received enquiries and requests from the west, for example, Diego Martin etc. Now we get calls from the northeast part of Trinidad, for example, Arouca, Port of Spain, Chaguanas, Couva, Freeport, and Barrackpore. And the demand is growing.
“Sometimes there are floods and we don’t even know, a client would come and say ‘you know we got flooded out yesterday?’ and there was nothing in the news about it,” he said.
Dookie said when catering for clients, they take into consideration not only the client’s needs but the issues at hand.
“A four-foot-high floodgate is quite tall; most people would want a gate around 18 inches high (1.5 feet). They would let us know which areas they need the gates for, and we make a site visit and go from there,” he said.
He said the higher and larger the gate, however, the more costly it is likely to be.
“Our gates are made from marine-grade aluminium so they are built to withstand flood waters and to last. However they can be heavy to move so that needs to be taken into consideration as well. We have to make it easy for the client to implement, and this can cost money,” he said.
Dookie said that the gates are also made to be rust-proof and should last between five and eight years. The seals used are neoprene and are designed to be watertight.
(Photo courtesy Flood Barrier Systems)
Tax breaks for floodgates?
Dookie said that as many homeowners in flood-prone areas now need to protect their homes against flooding, one way of helping them might be for government or insurance agencies to facilitate cheaper costs on items like floodgates.
He said this may be especially useful for disabled and elderly people.
“One suggestion would be for insurance companies, and by extension the government would be to provide a discount of maybe 25 percent or 30 percent for the handicapped and the aged, single parents etc. so that they can afford this protection for their homes.”
“So perhaps with this assistance we would be able to manufacture this lower-cost item for the population to access. Because the regular homeowner has no extra income to purchase a floodgate for $5,000 or $8,000, especially with the increased cost of living,” he said.
Dookie said they have in fact donated floodgates to needy persons, including a single mother whose home was recently destroyed by flooding.
Dookie said homeowners who are unable to afford floodgates can still employ certain techniques to prevent flood water from entering their homes.
One quick technique involves placing a towel over the front door instead of simply stuffing it underneath it.
“Place the towel over the front of the door, not under it or inside it. If you put it inside the door the flood water will easily push it away. It would help a lot in at least keeping out the mud and debris. You might have to do some gymnastics and come through the window but you can at least stop some of the damage,” he said.
(Photo courtesy Flood Barrier Systems)
Designing flood-proof homes
Dookie said that before even building a home, contractors should provide more foresight in designing elevated buildings that can avoid flooding.
“Contractors have a responsibility to provide the best advice for their customers and ensure that the designs they suggest cater for flood situations. They should not be building homes at street or below street-level. They have to be part of the solution.”
“Homeowners should do their own research as well. Go on the internet and read up as to where your door should be located. You don’t want five and six doors in your home, the door must open outward instead of inward, things like that.”
“Floods can push down doors, it is a dangerous event, it soaks your building, your building is not the same, it can even lift your house up. Contractors need to place a little more emphasis on education. It may cost a few dollars more, but it’s worth it in the long run,” Dookie said.
For more information on Flood Barrier Systems visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FloodBarriersTrinidad or call 702-2086.
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