19 November, 2008

Floods, North and South

Trinidad and Tobago
experienced severe flooding yesterday. Bridges collapsed, houses fell, children drowned, vehicles were buried, homeowners lost furniture, appliances, photographs and other valuables. One part of a highway had to have traffic diverted onto the Priority Bus Route and Eastern Main Road. Reportedly, the worst hit areas were the capital city, Port of Spain and it’s environs; the East-West corridor and South.

The responses by the disaster agencies were admittedly faster and more professional than before, but still lacking. More citizens also appeared to accept that waiting for the authorities to respond was not in their best interests and even toddlers were seen on tv, using brooms to remove mud and debris.

This will probably be the best time for the relevant authorities, viz., ODPM, CDERA, Ministries of Works, Local Government, National Security, et al, to roll out a national comprehensive public disaster awareness and preparedness educational campaign. This can be linked with the MILAT program and provide a spark for finally stimulating serious national discussion and debate about mandatory national service for our youth. Citizens would be more receptive while recent events are still fresh in their minds.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) pilot program that has been successful in Tobago can at last be brought to Trinidad to add to the strength of properly trained emergency responders available.

Neighbourhood defence groups can be organized to prevent looting and other opportunistic criminal acts. This would free up the resources of the police to concentrate on more serious crimes. It would also prevent the law enforcement professionals from being overwhelmed when we need them most.

My response to the flood was to to buy more preps. A few hundred diapers and a few dozen boxes of matches to add to my stash. That’s better than money in the bank. Now if only someone can teach me the proper way to waterproof those matches with wax…

- Trini Funshooter

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