More than 100 residents have been rendered homeless by the weekend’s deluge, said chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation Anthony Sammy. Sammy said 80 persons have been housed at three shelters set up at the North Diego Martin Community Centre, La Seiva Community Centre and BelleVue Community Centre.
Others have sought refuge with relatives and friends.
Among the dislocated residents are those from houses located on the hillsides of La Seiva Village in Maraval. Three of these houses came crashing down with the weekend’s heavy rains, another three are on the verge of slipping downhill, and yet others are threatened by those above them on the slope.
Up in La Seiva, Ernest Hosein related how his neighbour’s house, some 400 feet up the La Seiva hillside, “came down and mash up ours. It came down with stones and trees.”
Margaret Pompey, who has lived on the hills since 1957, and who is the owner of one of the houses on the verge of collapse, said she was afraid to stay at home.
“Right now I’m afraid to stay at my home. I never saw this before. Parts of the house above mine broke away and came tumbling down on my roof and kitchen.”
The entire area is without electricity and residents complained that they have made calls to the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission but no one visited them yesterday. Apart from utility poles which fell and caused the power outage in the area, several other utility poles were threatening to fall yesterday.
Peter McIntrye, at whose home Pompey has sought refuge said, “Bush fires caused the landslide. There is no undergrowth up on the hills. We never had bush fires here before until last year.” Sammy also said four houses in Cocorite were flattened by the floods. Most of the 38 persons at the North Diego Martin Community Centre were from Cocorite.
Irwin Avenue, La Seiva, and Third Street in Maraval were the most hard hit sites in that area.
On Third Street, a number of cars were pushed downhill by the force of the water into the Maraval River on Monday.
John Caracciolo, who lives on Irwin Avenue, said he has never experienced floods of that magnitude in the area. The water rose to over five feet on the street but Caracciolo, who has the foresight to put in flood reinforcements, did not get a “drop of water” on his premises.
Other Irwin Avenue residents said that they must design their own drainage system so as to not be inundated with water coming down the hills every time it rains.
“Right now, it is Fairways water that is messing up my yard, and wreaking havoc in my house,” a female member of one household said. Yesterday, the damage in the Maraval area resembled a scene from a war zone, beginning with the damage to the Trinidad Country Club’s wall — about 100 metres of wall was washed away in Saturday’s deluge.
Cleaning was taking place in homes, on the streets and on sidewalks even as residents kept a nervous watch on dark clouds gathering overhead.
As the rain began to drizzle, residents called out to each other, advising that cars be moved from Irwin Avenue to Fairways.
A mad rush to move the cars led to a traffic build-up, but the rains did not come after all.
Crews from the regional corporation, the Ministry of Works, First Engineering Battalion, CEPEP, the Port-of-Spain City Corporation and the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) were out and about assessing damage, and assisting in cleaning-up operations.
Water trucks were used to wash streets and pavements. Mud, slush and debris were being cleared by hand and with backhoes. In the Maraval river, excavators removed debris and sand and boulders that clogged many parts of the river from landslides.
WASA’s Zone Manager, Sennan Fournillier told Newsday that at the Fairways Bridge, where a team was engaged in repairing a main broken by the force of the slush and debris moving with the water, that six water mains had been broken as well.
Several parts of Maraval had been without water from about midday on Monday but the service was restored to most of Maraval by yesterday afternoon.
A number of businesses were also affected by the weekend deluge.
Luke Camacho, manager at the Sherwin Williams store at the Maraval round-about, said muddy water damaged goods.
“We tried to save as much as we could but within 15 minutes the water had entered the store”.