The search by a group of Bagatelle residents for a missing 31-year-old mother, Anisa “Smally” Lewis, continued late into Saturday night. Residents believe Lewis was swept away by water on Friday afternoon while trying to exit a spring in the hills of Bagatelle in Diego Martin.
Last Thursday night into Friday, heavy rain and strong winds from a tropical wave caused damage across parts of Trinidad and Tobago. Trees fell and roofs were blown off in Mt St George, Diego Martin, Arima, Mayaro, San Fernando, Carapichaima, St Helena and other areas. There were also reports of power outages in Couva, Sangre Grande and Point Fortin.
According to Lewis’ best friend, Neela Rajkumar, she accompanied Lewis and two other friends to the spring.
Other people were liming at the spring when they got there, she said.
While at the spring, Rajkumar said, people started to observe large amounts of water coming down from the waterfall above.
“So when we saw the water coming down everybody started to come out of the water and started to gears up. I say, Smally, let’s go. She turned around and started picking up her things for us to walk out,” she recalled.
“When we walked out, I said, come let’s go, the water is coming down heavier. She said, ‘Oh, God; Oh, God! I am right behind you’.”
Rajkumar said when she got to the spring’s bank, the water was already waist-high.
She said the water was pushing stronger and stronger, so she had to pull on two branches to get to the other side.
“I didn’t study in the water to look back because I was fighting my way to get out of the water because the water was pushing. When I reached on the next side, I turned back and I said, where Smally? Because I knew she was right behind me,” Rajkumar said.
“I started to call out but remember, I don’t want to go back in the water by myself. So, I walked back out on the road and saw two young men. One of them carried me on their back and the two of them were holding hands to go through the water because the water was pushing them.”
Their attempts to find Lewis, however, were futile.
Later on Friday evening, fire officers joined the search, but they also failed to find the mother of one.
The search effort by a group of Bagatelle residents continued into Saturday morning.
When Guardian Media met up with the search group of more than 20 people Saturday afternoon, they were searching in and around the Diego Martin River near Westmoorings.
At the time, the group was waiting for further assistance from the authorities to help find Lewis.
Guardian Media was told a search and rescue team joined the group later on.
Lewis was wearing a white vest and yellow jeans.
Under current public health regulations due to COVID-19, swimming and liming at beaches, rivers and other bodies of water are prohibited.
Relief efforts continued across the country yesterday in response to extensive damage caused by a tropical wave on Friday.
The ODPM, in co-ordination with regional corporations, cut and removed scores of fallen trees in Arima, Chaguanas, Mayaro, La Brea, Debe, Penal, San Juan, Laventille, Rio Claro, Sangre Grande, Port-of-Spain, Princes Town, La Brea, Siparia, San Fernando and other areas.
In total, there were 163 reports of fallen trees, according to the ODPM. Up to Saturday evening, 122 of the trees were cut or cleared.
ODPM said it also distributed tarpaulins and mattresses to dozens of people who lost roofs in all the respective areas.
There were 539 damaged roof reports, according to the ODPM.
202 roofs were repaired or covered up to Saturday evening.
According to the ODPM, it will continue to respond to the hundreds of reports that it received in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Works and Transport also continued responding to reports on Saturday.
The ministry responded to reports along the North Coast Road, the Manzanilla stretch, Antigua Road, Blanchisseuse Road, Fishing Pond, Guiaco Tamana, Cleaver Road, the Valencia stretch and the Point Fortin Main Road.
There were 22 reports of blocked roadways. All have been cleared, according to the ODPM.
Adverse weather alert discontinued
Meanwhile, the adverse weather alert which took effect from midnight on Friday, and was subsequently extended several times, ended at 2.51 pm Saturday.
According to the T&T Meteorological Service in its update, “The rainfall activity due to the tropical wave has now dissipated.” Its risk assessment matrix, at the time of the update, read unlikely and very low impact.
A hazardous seas alert from September 5 to midday on September 10 was issued. The update said, “North-easterly to easterly high energy swells are expected to impact nearshore areas along exposed coastlines of Trinidad and Tobago. The swells can result in higher surfs and occasional battering waves.”