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Cedros residents clean up after floods

Published: 
Thursday, September 13, 2018
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Flood waters in Cedros on Tuesday.

RADHICA DE SILVA

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Having faced what they called was the worst flood of their lives, Cedros residents yesterday called on the Ministry of Works to replace a manual floodgate which they say was removed during construction of the Cedros Bridge.

The residents spent most of yesterday cleaning up their homes and doing an assessment of damage following flooding caused by rains on Tuesday.

Nirmala Maharaj said the floodgates controlled the flow of water from Bonasse Village into the Gulf of Paria. She said it was only after the bridge construction began that residents began experiencing frequent flooding.

"I have been living here for 29 years and it was the first time I ever experienced this type of floods," Maharaj said.

Deodath Toolsie, who is 80 years old, said the manual floodgates were designed by the Americans during World War 2 and for decades served to keep out floods during high tide and during heavy rainfalls.

He said remnants of the floodgates were still present at the site.

Ainsley Gopaul, who has lived in Cedros for 58 years, said when the bridge construction began the contractors removed the floodgates and built a wall which hindered the water flow.

"This construction is hindering the water flow and preventing a fast runoff. We have never seen such floods in over 25 years. It was a disaster," Gopaul said.

He said he and Toolsie spoke to a civil engineer on site and showed him video footage of how the wall was restricting the water flow.

"In the past, we had worst rainfall than what we got on Tuesday and we never experienced that kind of floods," Gopaul added.

However, director of bridges Mahadeo Jagdeo, who worked closely on the project, said the floods were caused by several factors, including high-intensity rainfall and the restriction of water caused by three local channels which were situated in private property.

"Upstream of the bridge there are local water channels coming in. Property drain lines run alongside the road and another perpendicular. These three channels meet at the upstream end of the bridge and that contributed to the flooding. We cannot do anything to increase those channels because they are on private property," Jagdeo said.

He admitted that there is a piece of concrete that was constructed which exacerbated the floods and said this will be rectified.

Minister of Works Rohan Sinanan said there were no floodgates in Cedros but said a bridge was under construction. He said the project will be completed within the next month.

However, councillor for Cedros Shankar Teelucksingh said everyone in Cedros was familiar with the manual floodgates which worked well in preventing floods. He called on the ministry to look over previous designs and reinstall a floodgate that will control the water flow in and out of Cedros.

Minister of Local Government Kazim Hosein said yesterday that he was liaising with the Disaster Management Coordinator to deliver mattresses and other supplies for the affected residents. Acting Senior Disaster Management Coordinator Videsh Lall said 38 households were affected by the floods and forms were distributed to provide assistance through the Ministry of Social Development.

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