The state fell down on two areas in the recent flood disaster - lack of sufficient inflatable vessels and instances concerning people in the deepest water in the deepest part of communities who didn't want to leave their homes.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley confirmed this at Thursday's weekly Government media briefing.
He said agencies got food and water to people reasonably well and he'd been pleasantly surprised to see people in some shelters with meals when he went out early last Saturday. But there are some areas which require immediate improvement, he said.
"I don't think we had enough inflatable vessels to cover the large number of areas with heavy water such as St Helena and Sangre Grande. We need to prepare ourselves better with inflatables for the Coast Guard and Fire Services," Rowley said.
The area in which things fell down the most, he added, concerned people in the deepest water and deepest parts of communities with very, very limited access.
"Many instances, we got reports from Coast Guard that people, even though their houses were under water - especially with multi-storey units- they didn't want to leave and they remained in the flooded areas and expected to be serviced while in that condition. We weren't properly prepared for the large number of people who ended up in that situation. Many were offered help to get out to more easily serviced areas but chose to remain," Rowley said.
The PM added, "I understand why. In many instances, you're comfortable in your home than in shelters which are a shared environment - one or two toilets etcetera - people rather stay in their homes and maintain privacy even though a downstairs might be flooded. They expected the water would recede and in some areas, draining-off occurred quickly. In others, it didn't go down fast."
Rowley said the handling of the situation was no reason for "us to tear each other apart."
"It's reason for us to feel proud on how those unimpacted by the situation responded to those impacted," the PM said.
"There's a role for the state and always a role for others not on the state payroll. In this, a lot of good happened and a lot of lessons are to be learned...So much happened and so many things were handled successfully, things we can build on and areas of shortcomings we can strengthen going forward."
He also said there wasn't much T&T could have expected from Caricom: dry food, clothes, water.
"Trinidad and Tobago handled ourselves pretty well. The complaint now is who's getting how much of what. But Trinidad and Tobago's the land of the smartman and woman, we have to ensure the aid and relief reach those affected."
Rowley said in the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (regional disaster response) definition, T&T's floods were a Threshold One level, meaning only part of the country was affected and T&T could have handled the matter internally.
Saying the ODPM isn't a first responder but rather Local Government bodies were, he added, "On a practical level, your neighbour is your first responder - the first to see or hear your distress - and a lot of that happened in this situation."
- by Gail Alexander