Overnight torrential showers caused floodwaters to rise in several areas in Penal and Barrackpore yesterday leaving roads impassable and residents marooned in their homes.
One of the hardest-hit areas was along the Penal Rock Road where floodwaters covered a mile of roadway from the Penal Rock (Kubairsingh) Hindu Primary School.
The floods also spilt into side roads such as Moolchan Trace, Goodman Trace, Nagessar Trace, and Gowrie Sankar Trace.
Residents said this was not one of the worst floods they have experienced and there were no reports of loss to livestock, agricultural products, or property.
However, several businesses had to remain closed while scores of people were unable to go to work.
The Penal Rock Road Public Cemetery was also flooded. While the water began to rising around 5 am, some residents were affected long before that occurred. Moolchan Trace resident Samdaye Motilal, 76, who lives alone said she spent a restless night.
“Last night I was sleeping and this rain come down and the way this rain start to fall I feel like this house go break down. I feel like the partition and thing shaking and the way the water falling in the galvanise my chest start to pain because I have this pacemaker in my chest.”
She was afraid that she would not survive the night.
“I only saying God forgive me, God forgive me, take care of me. I praying to God all the time.”
She had to take her heart medication.
“More the rain falling hard is more the chest hurting. I see tonight is the last night for me. I was so scared.”
When the sun came up, she realised that her home was surrounded by floodwater.
“This was not so big. Real big the flood does come.”
Wiping the tears from her face, Motilal said all she wanted was some food to eat.
Her next-door neighbour Curtis Kalipersad who lives in a downstairs apartment said he woke up to around 5 am and the yard was already flooded.
Fortunately, he managed to put his belongings on a height before the water entered his apartment.
“Luckily we were able to lift everything higher and nothing was damaged and is just to clean up now.”
He called on the authorities to properly clean the rivers and drains to mitigate the floods. Barber Anil Boodoo said he could not open his business located along the Penal Rock Road.
“The problem really is it have a drain from Moolchan Trace going back to Labos Annex and that drain clog and if it is that drain clean it will be able to flow a little better. We might not avoid the flood but again the volume of water might be less because it have an access to go.”
Dr Allan Sammy, chairman of the Penal Debe Regional Corporation who took the media on a tour of the area, anticipated more floods in other areas.
Speaking with reporters near the Hindu school, Sammy said, “The floods are emanating from the hills, the Southern Range, which is only a mile away from where we are. This is the area that is customarily flooded first and all the junctions between here and what is called the six-mile mark along the Penal Rock Road…I anticipate that there is going to be greater flooding a little later because when the tides are high then it is going to bank up again as we say, so there is going to be more flooding.”
He said the Penal Rock Road and its drainage fell under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Works, but the minor watercourses were the corporation’s responsibility.
“There are 99 watercourses in Penal/Debe which we are responsible for and we clean that religiously so this is not unusual. I know the Ministry of Works has tried but because it is not a comprehensive programme so then it has not been done properly. Now by properly I don’t mean what they clean is not cleaned properly but I mean it has to be done along the entire course of the river.”
One of the problems, he said, was that the decision-making regarding the cleaning of drains was not made by the Ministry’s Penal/Debe division.
“I know they have been trying to decentralise the decision making back to Penal/Debe but so far it has been fruitless.”
He said the corporation’s Disaster Management Unit was on alert since Monday night, their dingy operators were on standby and their shelters were also on standby.
He said within the last two months the corporation has given out 6,500 sandbags.