It is the last day of November and the weather forecast in Trinidad and Tobago reads, “Mostly sunny conditions […] apart from a few showery interruptions [with a low] chance of isolated afternoon heavy showers or thunderstorms.” Yet, much of the country is still grappling with the effects of the low-level trough that prompted the issuance of a “weather emergency alert” on November 26. Steady rains have caused rivers across the island of Trinidad, especially, to reach their limit and overflow, bringing major flooding to plains and other low-lying areas.
This afternoon & Tonight
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO 🇹🇹
🌧 Generally sunny w/ the likelihood of showers.
⛈ 30% chance of isolated heavy showers
⚠️ Street flooding & gusty winds possible
⚠️ Riverine Flood Alert #3 (Orange Level) in effect
— @ttmetoffice (@TTMetOffice) November 29, 2022
An Orange Level Riverine Flood Alert remains in effect for the larger of the two islands until midnight on November 30, with the country's Meteorological Office advising:
Some river levels across Trinidad are on a very slow decline with others remaining near full capacity. Runoff is slow due to saturated soils and any additional rainfall will cause further delay. Some impacted communities are still at moderate to high risk of adverse impact. Water levels are expected to slowly but persistently decrease in most areas. Note, though, that run off will also be slower at high tide.
One Twitter user quipped:
Trinidad won't even have time to issue a red riverine flood alert at this rate. By then we'll all be under water
— Aaliyah🏻 (@aaliyah_hosein7) November 28, 2022
Other social media users, astounded at how widespread the effects from the adverse weather were, posted images and videos of the wreckage, from landslides and flood waters to destroyed roads and overturned vehicles:
— TTWeatherCenter (@TTWeatherCenter) November 28, 2022
My dad just called me to tell me what 2 weeks of rain have done to my beautiful Trinidad & Tobago😖 Roads destroyed, landslides, mudslides, floods, etc… #ClimateCrisis
— Lord Dokusei2 aka “Tanjiro” 🇹🇹 (@Savo33xx) November 28, 2022
Flood waters reaching as high as 10 feet (3 metres) were proving challenging for disaster relief crews trying to reach those affected, and in the hardest hit areas, like Mafeking, in the south-eastern town of Mayaro, situated just south of the Nariva Swamp, officers from the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard and Defence Force called in boats and heavy-duty trucks:
Today, the ODPM arranged the deployment of a troop carrier to Mafeking to assist T&TEC personnel restore electricity in flood inundated areas. There was also the redeployment of two (2) dinghies with operators of the TTCG to Bamboo Settlement #2.#ODPMTT #AllOfSocietyApproach pic.twitter.com/R5TOn7VVox
— ODPM Trinidad and Tobago (@ODPM_TT) November 29, 2022
this is the worst for Trinidad i have ever experienced luckily for my family we are not in flood prone areas but my heart breaks for all these families 😔🙏
— paula jankie (@paulajankie) November 28, 2022
While the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services pledged to provide food, financial assistance and psychological support to flood victims dispersed across as many as 67 communities throughout the country, many Twitter users were wondering how the problem was going to be solved:
Soooo what's going to be done to mitigate the effects of flooding in Trinidad and Tobago?
Every single time lil bit of rain fall the whole place flood
— The Sagiterrorist💕 (@itsbrittanicaaa) November 29, 2022
It's actually quite concerning how quickly Trinidad floods
— Clown Capital🍃 (@Ti_an_aaa) November 28, 2022
Support for flood victims has also been organised through local Chambers of Commerce and other business associations. Clean-up efforts will become more robust as flood waters subside, with Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Faris Al-Rawi stressing that government services must continue, requiring a full workforce.
How many managers said “We understand that the floods are still present and still pose a threat. Therefore I recommend we work from home until the rivers reach their normal levels” Because looking at the traffic from this evening it’s seems very unlikely #trinidad #flooding
— Shastri Changoor (@srchangoor) November 30, 2022
Minister Al-Rawi also emphasised that human activities also contribute to flooding, suggesting there has to be some measure of accountability:
When people wilfully build and intrude on waterways and water courses or they think it's okay to throw a fridge into a waterway, these [have] consequences.
Littering and poor development practices have long been cited as contributing factors to the country's flooding woes.
This Twitter user was all for getting to the source of the problem:
Trinidad Parliament needs to focus on the real issue, year after year, flood after flood, seems like a weekly occurrence now.https://t.co/EUHGVQGReV
— Ghost (@Ghost10001O) November 29, 2022
The office of Disaster Preparedness and Management, meanwhile, was carrying out aerial reconnaissance to help inform a flood relief strategy at the local government level:
Today, the ODPM collaborated with the TT Air Guard to conduct aerial reconnaissance of flood impacted areas, which will be used to assist the MRDLG's flood response strategy.https://t.co/BIwVwGyYfJ#ODPMTT #AllOfSocietyApproach pic.twitter.com/shw2BfPsDK
— ODPM Trinidad and Tobago (@ODPM_TT) November 28, 2022
While schools country-wide were closed as a precaution on Monday, November 28, some schools were forced to keep their doors closed up to Wednesday because their compounds were so badly affected. Citizens were also cautioned about the possibility of dangerous infections like leptospirosis being transmitted via contaminated flood waters. At the same time, conservationists pleaded with residents not to kill wildlife displaced by flood waters.
The Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) has cautioned that the heavy rains which caused the flooding could continue into December, posing further risk to the region as a whole.