Already struggling from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents of Gasparillo lost most of their belongings yesterday as heavy rain caused floodwaters to rise as high as five feet in some areas.
Parts of Arouca, Lopinot and Chaguanas were also affected by street and flash flooding.
Guardian Media spoke to Gasparillo resident, Videsh Gopaul who said although those who live on Gopaul Avenue have had to contend with floodwaters in the past, yesterday’s event was by far the worst.
“My family in the back are completely flooded out, I just spoke to them and they have lost everything, they have almost five feet of water in their house. They lost fridges, stoves, books, washing machines, computers, beds, wardrobes, sofa sets, everything is lost,” Gopaul said.
Gopaul said the flooding began after just one hour of heavy rainfall and left some homes under as much as five feet of water.
He estimated the damage to his relatives home to about $100,000.
He said for years, the residents have been clamouring about poor drainage in the area.
“It had a guy was building a house lower down the road and he bridge the gap and the water can’t pass as it used to, that is why we have this back up presently, a little above the knee is where it is normally about three feet—now it is waist height—if I go in it, it will reach me by my chest right now,” he said.
MP for Tabaquite, Anita Haynes, visited the residents. She said she had received multiple reports of homes being inundated with floodwaters.
She too blamed the flooding on poor drainage.
“A lot of people have lost a number of things—things are really hard for some families, dealing with COVID-19, joblessness, trying to get their children started with virtual learning,” she said.
She said the calls to dredge rivers in the area were ignored and the time to do so has now passed.
“We are now well into the rainy season, prepping for the hurricane season so that ship has sailed in terms of clearing the watercourses and making sure the dredging of river banks is done.”
Haynes said this incident will test the response of newly-installed Social Development Minister Donna Cox.
“I heard the newly installed Minister of Social Development spoke about getting aid and assistance to people in need in a faster manner, we are going to see if they will be true to their word.”
Haynes said she was told in some areas that residents were still awaiting flood grants from two years ago.
“So they are facing a problem that is recurring and every time they apply for grants, they are not getting the grants.”