Trinidad and Tobago has been at the receiving end of some heavy rains over the past few days, resulting in severe flood waters that have immobilized commuters, compromised infrastructure and wreaked havoc on the public transportation system.
But only a handful of local bloggers were on top of the story (perhaps the rest were too busy trying to find a way home). Media Watch thanked the mainstream media “for bringing us on the ground reports of the flooding well before the major newscasts were scheduled to begin”, while journalist/blogger Paolo Kernahan thought that “the devastation across the country and in particular Port of Spain…demonstrates the desperate state of affairs in this country”:
Inclement weather is, of course, beyond anyone’s control. Our response to it is what makes us human.
Trinidadians were forced to revert to a primal state as flood waters predictably rose and swirled around our ankles, then knees, then necks. City Gate on a dry day is like a refugee camp in the Congo, a mass of humanity moving in unison like locusts in a swarm, hither and thither hoping to clamber onto a maxi without losing a shoe or your dignity. Just imagine City Gate this evening after rivers regurgitated their loads out onto South Quay and everywhere else.
People were actually fighting; frustration whittling away at already frayed nerves, men and women reverting to more primal instincts; survival, defense. The predators are lying in wait for them, teeth bared, ready to pounce on this opportunity of weakness. As frazzled city workers try to wend their way home, the killers from the ‘hotspots’ pounce on them, shattering windows and grabbing unguarded purses or cell phones. So the saga of survival plays out in the wetlands of South Quay.
We have been turkey-gobbling for years about a disaster management policy and an evacuation plan for the city of Port-of-Spain. There was no coordinated approached to advising members of the public how they should cope with the wide scale flooding, which I again emphasize was quite predictable.
Twitter had a few flood-related entries:
…and blogger Georgia Popplewell, who happened to be on the road during the downpour, posted this photo of a swollen Diego Martin river:
Finally, Paolo had a message for the nation's Prime Minister:
This is what I see Mr Manning, first world money but third world mentality that has our citizens confused and scared in a city that has become a watery prison with bandits waiting in the wings to pounce. Good thing you had three men to hold umbrellas for you. I am still hurting for the young mother soaked to her slip, clutching two terrified children’s hands because she has no answers for the look of fear in their eyes.
So raise your champagne glasses in the Hyatt to all the monuments to your success while our people wade through muddy water, hoping that it is not more of the same in their living rooms, when, or if they finally get home.