In T&T: Govt seeking $40m more for city flood plan Only $10m available for cleaning rivers, drains

25 July 2012


$40m shortfall in funding requirement to keep P.O.S. flood-free.

Government needs to raise $40 million to complete flood prevention measures in Port-of-Spain. Works and Infrastructure Minister Emmanuel George told the T&T Guardian approximately $50 million was needed to clean drains and rivers in the city but so far only $10 million was available for the project. George said contracts have been awarded for cleaning the rivers but not for the drains.

He said he could not comment on other initiatives to combat flooding, such as work on retention ponds and the Mamoral Dam, as he recently took up office and had not had an opportunity to address those projects, because he had been dealing with traffic-related matters. He added: “I know the retention pond built on upper South Quay has been working well. It has been avoiding flooding on Upper South Quay.”

Asked if other retention ponds would be built, he said that was something he was yet to address. George said rivers scheduled to be cleaned were the St Ann’s and the Diego Martin Rivers.tt Another flood-prevention measure which appears to be at a standstill is the gullysucker bought during the term of former Port-of-Spain mayor Murchison Brown.

Current mayor Louis Lee Sing, who was asked about the status of the equipment, said he recently had asked about it and was told it would be “back up and running,” but could offer no further information. Lee Sing also admitted there had been little progress on the egress plan for evacuation of the city in the event of major flooding or other emergencies.

He suggested the T&T Guardian speak with corporation CEO, Winnifred David, about that matter. The implementation of the plan has been stalled because Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh has not yet approved the part of the plan that deals with the evacuation of the 52 schools in the city.

While Trinidad and Tobago is outside the hurricane belt and is usually not affected by storms during hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, parts of the country, including Port-of-Spain, are prone to flooding during moderate to heavy rainfall. According to the Met Office, T&T is currently in a “neutral phase“ of the rainy season. The office added: “Conditions are forecast to remain in a neutral phase until the October to November period, before it goes into the El Nino phase.

“El Nino for the region means below normal rainfall. When we say normal, we are referring to the rainfall averaged over a period of 30 years. “Above and below normal refers to that range of rainfall which is more than ten per cent more or less than the normal rainfall

“There is uncertainty which conditions the season will favour, since the forecast continues to be between neutral and the El Nino phase. “With this in mind, the forecast for the 2012 rainy season is to be used as a guide only. Rainfall is expected to be between normal and slightly above normal.” Available records show it is not unusual for storms to form outside of the hurricane season.

Egress plan

The egress plan was devised in conjunction with the Office of Disaster Preparedness (ODPM) to evacuate cities in case of major or minor emergencies. If egress becomes necessary due to severe flooding, people who are indoors will shelter in place, preferably on high ground and monitor radio and television broadcasts, until it is deemed safe by the incident commander for them to leave the building. This applies to all workers and students.

The Downtown Owners and Merchants Association and all ministries will make the necessary provisions for shelter-in-place operations that exceed the stipulated school and work hours. The transient population requiring public transport to leave the city will be encouraged to make their way to one of the loading bays or transport hubs. Persons leaving the city, via private vehicles, will follow the directions provided.

The egress routes are:
Loading bay:
Woodford Square (primary); and
Victoria Square (alternative).

Transport hubs:
West hub: Movie Towne (primary);
West hub: Hasely Crawford Stadium (alternative)’
East hub:  VMCOTT (primary);
East hub:  EWMSC (alternative);
North hub:  Wild Flowers Park (primary); and
North hub:  King George V Park (alternative).
Exit Port-of-Spain using designated egress routes.

Persons entering or leaving Port-of- Spain to the west will use Tragarete Road through St James. They can also use Long Circular Road through St James. Persons entering or leaving Port-of- Spain to the east will use the Lady Young Road or Belmont Circular Road. Alternatively, the Santa Cruz Road can also be used. No private vehicle will be allowed south of Duke Street.

As much as is reasonably possible, persons travelling to communities on the outskirts of Port-of-Spain can walk if possible. After the egress of the transient population and the all clear instructions are given, persons sheltering-in-place will be given the option to leave the city, if they so desire. At this point the transportation system within the city will return to its normal operations.

For persons who are unable to get to the hubs, designated emergency vehicles will stop at pre-determined locations along the emergency routes outlined.

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