As the tractor we were on spluttered through Ross Trace, St Helena, we first saw Silvan Roopnarine with his head in his hands looking at the damage done to his home.
“My house got destroyed during the 2018 floods, so I moved everything in the garage and I started to live there. Now with this flood, everything I put in the garage gone now,” Roopnarine told Guardian Media with tears in his eyes.
Roopnarine, like many residents in St Helena, is still traumatised by what transpired in 2018 and while they say yesterday’s inundation was nothing like the disaster of three years ago, some did not take any chances.
Selwyn and his family belong to that group. As our tractor driver swung into Constantine Trace, he and his family were leaving.
“We’re going by family to wait this out,” he said.
“Water started rising about 2 o’clock this morning at high tide and then it kept rising and rising. We got flooded out in 2018 and even though that was worse, it’s like the same old, same old here.”
It’s an attitude that many have adopted to get by in St Helena. Living so close to the Caroni River has made them accustomed to days like yesterday. But it does not mean it makes their suffering any easier.
The Dennis family has been living in the area for over 20 years. Daisy Dennis said while people may say they are living in a flood-prone area, it still hurts when it happens.
“When the rain was falling I was praying and asking God not to let this happen again, but it’s a sad thing and don’t mind you don’t have a big home, it still sad. We expect this sometimes, so when I building another house I building a high house,” Dennis declared, sobbing in her living room with water up to her ankles.
Some weren’t too stressed out though. Those who had dinghies were lying back in them listening to the flow of water. Others simply sat drinking their tea in the gallery looking at the water around them. It was in Santa Monica drive that we saw a group of young men standing in waist-high water cutting up eddoes.
“Broff boy, we are going to make a broff, KFC ain’t open yet, nobody ain’t bring anything for us and we’re hungry!”
That resilience and desire to see the bright side spread to an area along the Caroni South Bank Road, where a shop was also flooded, but this time with people purchasing drinks.
One man shouted at us, “We drinking, cooking and liming, if better can’t be done then continue doing the worse.”
Breaking from tradition, many didn’t seem to blame anyone for this. Not the councillor, Minister of Works or even the Prime Minister. They just saw it as another day near the mighty Caroni River. They did say that maybe the tributaries could be more regularly cleaned but it seemed as if they had no expectation that it would be done.
St Helena councillor Richard Rampersad told Guardian Media that time and again, he has been advocating for concrete box drains in the area, lamenting that there are still dirt drains in the community.
“Box drain?! Box drain can’t fix this!” a man on a bicycle told us when we suggested the idea.
He continued laughing while cycling through the muddy waters.