20 thoughts on “Flooding in La Seiva, Maraval”

  1. All this and the rainy season has just begun:


    One would think that by now after decades of learning about the effects of global warming, at least one of T’n’T’s political parties might have made the flooding of urban areas a priority; but what did they do, they exacerbated it by allowing the destruction of our hill sides by approving runaway construction and drilling. Has any Trini even heard about the erupting mud volcano in Indonesia, caused by drilling for Natural Gas? I also believe that people get exactly the government they deserve, and if this wasn’t a priority for the people, who believe they can squat and burn anywhere on the face of Mother Nature then all I can offer is my sympathy to those who are about to learn that ignorance is not always bliss.

  2. Wake Up Trinis, or it might be too late. As Raf says they’ve already stolen your soul now they’re about to steal your life and those of your children:

    Mud Volcano Mayaro:


    Mud Volcano Kernaham Village:


    Mud volcanoes erupt in Santa Flora:




  3. I remember the floods of sixty years ago in Cumuto, when the back-up of the Caroni River caused its tributaries to run backwards, and eventually when the flood subsided, the smell of wet rotting vegetation stayed for days.
    I remember the floods of the Guaracara River, when I was three,(^& years ago) when the water created an inland sea, and my mother was able to wash clothes sitting on the back step of the house in Williamsville.

    None of this had anything to do with PNM, but with massive rains, the inability of the river to empty itself into the ocean because of high tides, and the silting up of river mouths due to alluvium and rubbish.

    I remember the flooding of Houston, Texas in 1992, 96 and then during tropical storm Allison (2001)when, in one afternon, more than twenty inches of rain fell. People drowned, basements three stories down flooded, drowning cars, hospital records, and electrical systems and paralyzing the hospital city’s ability to even evacuate people.I remember one TV station saying they were h going offline temporarily becAUSE THEY WERE WORKING IN A FOOT OF WATER, AND THEY WERE MOVING TO THE ROOF.

    There was a quiet vow that this will not happen again.
    What has happened since Allison?
    All hospital records are now stored on the third floors. So,too, are the electrical control rooms. Flood gates have been installed, Drains have been widened. Pumps to get rid of excess water have been installed in needed areas, and new flood gates to hold the water back have been set in place.
    New catchment ponds to hold millions of cubic feet of excess water have been part of every suburban development.
    Some streets still flood because the underground drains cannot hold enough water, and when the tides are high, the flood may be greater.
    There is one central authority that does flood planning, and in some places,like the City of Houston, part of Harris County, a flood tax has been added to widen the drains.

    This is government in action.

    The “Ohmihgosh” attitude of the Government By Hassecara, called the PP will allow a similar comment to be written by my grandchild.
    We import every American TV station, we agonize about the sales at Macy’s that we cannot get to, our children think a trip to Disneyworld is an essential right of passage, and like the US, we now have graduation gowns fror leaving kindergraten, elementary school, secondary school and if they learned to read in the meantime, university. But the department of Civil Engineering of UWI and all the schools of technology we are jumping up everywhere, cannot solve a problem of too much water in the rainy seson.
    Instead of a new airport in Couva, why not build an artificial lake capable of holding millions of cubic metres of water? A two square mile lake, four hndred feet deep, will hold all of the runoff. We could create a recreational area there, when its not flooding. this cound generate work , tourism by our own people and agricultural support.

    We are not planning for the future, only trying to blame others for the past. Shoud we not get off our butts and do something?
    Copy the Americans in something positive for once.
    Technical help is available. Unempluyed young men need work, get off your duffs and do something.

  4. http://test.guardian.co.tt/?q=features/life/2010/02/28/la-seiva-danger

    “La Seiva in danger” screamed one Guardian headline back in February 2010. Did anyone listen? Anyone bothered to make the connection between the environment and themselves? Here’s one part of the story:

    Mountains being destroyed
    “Unauthorised entry strictly forbidden,” the sign on the galvanised fence in La Baja warned. Behind the wall, a part of the mountain lay stripped of its clothing of vegetation “like if you take a knife and pass it across,” a villager said. This is a new housing development that is being constructed in La Seiva, reportedly by a man with PNM links. The project, which was started two years ago, was temporarily halted after a protest by the Maracas Valley Action Committee.

    Many of the protesters included farmers who had been planting tomatoes and cucumbers on the land. According to former La Seiva village council president, Barthol Selvon, the housing development may do some good, after all. “This was a slash and burn area. It was always bare of vegetation. There used to be a fire on this part of the mountains every year. “The housing development may bring drainage and trees.”

    Interesting metaphors like “a knife…stripped of its clothing” I guess those who named La Seiva knew the secret; because just like a knife cutting through human skin brings a torrent of blood; stripping the hill side has caused a torrent or flood of La Seiva or the Sap.

  5. More than twenty years ago, when San Fernando Hill had been mined to the point where there was a terrible, fearful rock sitting at the pinacle, just waiting on a wind or earth tremor to go crashing down on the houses below, I wrote a column about cutting down mountains and hills and the drastic effect this has on the land, our land. The slogan “Moonan Moves Mountains” was the business logo of one of the worst offenders. Time passed. San Fernando Hill was made into a park, and the rock removed.(I was away at the time, and it was before internet newspapers).I had said at that time, that students of civil engineering needed to get some practicum in, by working on community service projects.Flood control is a major aspect of civil engineering.
    The continued flooding may be a sign of disconnect between the town and the gown. Town and country planning takes some of the blame because they apparently approve the cutting down of mountains in Moka Estate, La Horquette and the Diego Martin Hills as well as other places.The government’s housing settlement at the entrance to Diego MArin Valley asdded to flooding, as did the filling in of the land to build those fancy curry and melongene condos on the former estuary of the Diego Martin River in Westmoorings.It may not happen in my lifetime, but I would wish for my country, that the day will come when the “Big Men” of the country will have to submit plans for their buildings, which may be approved or not, based on merit,and environment impact, and not on whose plans they are, and which party they belong to, or how much bribe they could cough up.
    I would hope that those who build with no permission, will have their properties demolished as with the bodi and watermelon the farmers planted on state lands. That would be the day when we would truly be a democracy.

    1. I lived beneath that Sando Hill as a child and the environmental impact was immediate. As a child I would get up in the morning to a chill in the air, you could see your breath when you spoke, and it was a joy to see the mist rise from the vegetation on the hill as the Sun rose.

      Not anymore the place is as hot as Hell all day and many of my neighbors have seen their backyard gardens turned into nothing but caked mud.

    2. I am a Sando person after leaving Fifth Company. I went to high school in the 50′ into the 60’s. In the 60’s Nathai from Rio Claro used to quarry the Western parts of the Hill as could be seen from Pointe a Pierre Rd. In fact his son died as a result of a quarry accident, but quarrying continued. Moonan was a latecomer in the quarry. Linda does not know what she says. Moonan moveing mountains came in the 70’s after he got contracts that required rock material. He brought engineer Harry Ramesar from England to lead his works and in addition to Sando hill, they also worked to quarry when they cut along Morvant bypass. The cut material was useful in road-building and they were supposed to refurbish, by landscaping and planting the slopes. Not a lot was done.

      My business is Environmaental Management and I did projects in several African countries. I tell you, no where I have worked were people or govts aware of what to do, or even the need for preservation. TnT IS AHEAD OF SEVERAL OTHER NATIONS IN ITS AWARENESS AND ATTEMPTS TO PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. We are aware that the regular change of govt, regular change of focus as a result, the peculiar types of corruption in the bureaucracy as well as hopeless experts contribute to the degradation, big floods and trauma in the nation.

      There is need for environmental police, education of the citizenry, respect of nature, punishment for several types of crime against the environment, all belonging to a comprehensive national program of development. Many will say that is already in place. Yes too. And why is it not working? Because there are bigots in govt, in EMA, on Boards, and everywhere where lip service is enough, announcements mollify the peole, and ODPM is ready and prepared for 18 storms and hurricanes.

      What fools they are! The entire hurricane basin of the Gulf of Mexico, The North Atlantic and the Caribbean might see those and nary a one would hit TnT. The people in ODPM follow advice of the morons in the Met SERVICE who acnnot compute the elbow-ass distance, and who whole sale use foreign sources as their prediction. Evry year THE BIG ONE is expected to hit. Create fear in people and they will respond they think.
      I say, create understanding, push education, allow people to feel the need for being prepared, let people help organising and feel part of the movement, then things will be better. In the meantime I hear you, I see you, but you people who lead the EMA, the MeT OFFICE and the politicians who cannot stay away from the spotlight, you are handling the safety of TnT WRONG. Posers and posturers are in position just as under the PNM and I am sorry to say that the ritual that is annually played out when rains come, rivers rise and floods inundate the nation, will continue. Even the dry season is a curse. And your program is a piece of paper, documents looking nice and impressive but success stops ther. On the ground you are effete, non plussed, ineffective and do not ever deliver on promises. Yet every year you promise and promise, and the floods come and people suffer. The people are not well-served. You are bogus. Jack Warner has some ideas but not the people who could carry them to fruition. Other than that, the Met Service has NO expert who could forcast the hurricane season, and absolutely everything they say, propose, promote is foreign derived. And ODPM, well, it is ODPM. ALWAYS READY FOR THE MEDAI, NEVER FOR THE EVENTUALITY.

      My cynicism is born of experience and action in the field. My analysis is a result of counsulting with experts, govts, and engineers who soleve environmental problems. My opinion is my own, shared by hosts of people with whom I speak. At one time, I was available to serve in TnT, BUT NOT AGAIN.

  6. Thank God PNM is not in government, you all would be still swimming in that nasty water. Government needs to get all those rivers cleaned up way before rainy season.

    TRINIDAD and Tobago is at greater risk of being affected by a major storm this hurricane season and the country needs to be prepared.

    Wet start to rainy season
    It has only been one week, but this rainy season is already living up to its “above-average” expectations. Heavy rains and thundershowers were reported throughout the country at the weekend,…

    Warning of more floods this week
    Brace for more rainfall and floods this week as yet another tropical wave will bring more showers throughout the country.

    PM: More money to improve T&T’s drainage network
    Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says more must be done to ensure that flooding in T&T is significantly reduced.

    Ready for floods
    THE FIRST floods of the rainy season have brought a swift response from the Government and its emergency agencies yesterday with a promise of rapid response to help affected citizens.

    Warner silent on FIFA as he looks at flood damage
    Suspended Concacaf head and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner maintained an almost glum silence as he toured the flood-damaged Princess Elizabeth Children’s Centre, Mucurapo, yesterday.

    Action Jack tackles floods
    Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner yesterday announced “solutions” to alleviate flooding which occurred in Woodbrook last Saturday.

    Minister reviews plans for flood-hit Princess Elizabeth Centre
    The idea of relocating the Princess Elizabeth Centre (PEC) from Ariapita Avenue, Port-of-Spain was raised yesterday after the facility which provides therapy to physically challenged children was again flooded.

    Tobago counts losses from storm
    Several areas in Tobago, including Moriah and Felicity Heights, Whim, suffered the effects of heavy rainfall and floods at the weekend, which caused landslides and damage to vehicles.

  8. Ms.Bissessar says we are prepared. Some questions.
    Does every house in a flood prone area have a flotation device for getting out of the floods? Has a “Decanting Center” been located on higher ground in each area , and the people notified of its location? Does the Fire Services on Wrightson Road and on Sando Circular have flat bottomed boats(shallow draft) with engines and tow ropes so that one could pull others inevacuating people?
    Does every household in a flood-prone area have a small kit, waterproof, foressential medicines, and a bigger one for meals ready to eat? Has a kit of dry clothes ben packed for each family member?
    Has every family been encouraged to practice a family evacuation drill, and to memorise an assembly point to go to if they get separated? Have people been reminded to keep a flashlight in a dry place, and to charge their cell-phones every night, since in an emergency a cell phone is a flashlight?
    Have old people who will need evacuation, becuse of disability, been identified, and someone in their area trained to go get them,or will their lives be left to chance?Have old people’s homes and handicapped children’s homes been equipped with flat-bottomed power boats that they could get out?

    I respectfully suggest that our government laise with the government of cuba to see what it means to prepare for a storm, and an emergency evacuation.Of all the flood and hurricane prone areas of the Western Hemisphere, Cuba loses the least people when a disaser happens.
    Finally, do we know how many hospital beds are available on the higher floors of the hospitals, for housing the ill and aged who may need to be moved from their own homes temporarily?HAve we asked people to stock up on large garbage bags, to put owber major appliances, facing downward, in case ther roofs go in a storm? Have schools been drilled in evecuation plans that can be executed in an orderly and efficient manner? These are disciplined measures that save lives.
    Does the state have the power to order all doctors to stations in case of a major national disaster?

    if the answer to any of these questions is no, we are not prepared, no matter what Nancy Story we tell ourselves. We should get prepared.
    This is submitted in the public interest. You who rea it, go over the personal checklist yourself, nd hare it with others. Preparedness is a state of mind.

  9. When I became environmentally aware, Moonan was boasting of moving mountains. Check the Express archives for a piece I wrote on that, in 1985 or so.

    We used to accept the flooding as an act of God, now we know that God sends the rains, what men and women do dictate what happens next. At 70 years of age, I do not care who thinks I do not know what I am talking about. I have come to realize that men attack what I say, because they are men.
    If there are archival papers from the early forties, check on the Guaracara river flooding. My mother’s cousin, Tartie swam across a lake that seemed to me miles wide, to get a newspaper.From our house, we could see him struggling back in the current.My mother began to pray, fearing that he would drown. He did not.

    I wrote this into my novel The Sun, The Snow, The Sea.It’s as clear as daylight in my mind. Borrow a copy from the library, and read it yourself.

    There may be very old people in Wiliamsville who still remember that flood.

  10. Are we prepared?

    Newsday Editorial
    June 8 2011 – newsday.co.tt

    Saturday’s flooding in parts of Port-of-Spain and its surroundings occurred during a “normal” half-hour rain shower, and it coincided with a low tide in the Gulf of Paria. The fact that the event flooded the Princess Elizabeth Home for Physically Handicapped Children created a greater element of sympathy and concern than the damage and inconvenience suffered elsewhere —and rightly so. These Special Children deserve a greater degree of protection and concern than most children, especially because many of them actually live at the Centre.

    However, this “event”, the equivalent of which we can expect at least twice a week every week from now through December, brought out members of Cabinet, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management, and others, all warning us of the coming hurricane season, and promising us that the Government is prepared to deal with disasters stemming from hurricanes or rainstorms.

    Quite frankly, we are not really comforted by their assurances. Although the Prime Minister spoke of the “disasters” her Government faced a year ago, with the flooding which inundated different parts of the country, we did not experience any “disastrous” rain showers or storms, and the Meteorological Office can support this. Indeed, we have been mercifully spared, not only hurricanes, but even the “major rain events” we are seeing so often on television. We have suffered from what the Met Office calls “normal rainfall occurrences”, and we need to ask ourselves why, before we are subjected to a hurricane or a major event like a “once in 30 years rainfall”.

    Clues lie everywhere: The Princess Elizabeth Home reports that they have been “flooded out ten times since 2003”. But it was not flooded in the years before 2003? CEPEP workers said they removed six truckloads of silt from within the Home’s compound. So how many “truckloads of silt” may have flowed down the Maraval river to be deposited where the river meets the sea? We contend, as do many of our readers, that the recent overflows of the Maraval river have been caused by the fact that the river is silted up, and needs clearing and dredging. Minister of Works Jack Warner announced last year that the dredging would be done, but nothing has happened. Mr Warner needs to tell the nation, before the next flash flood, what has delayed the proposed dredging of river mouths and clearing of drains.

    We raise this “regular rainfall” flash flooding because it needs to be put in the context of what might happen if we get a major rainfall event or a hurricane. If our drains cannot handle 20 minutes of normal heavy rain, what will happen to us if true disaster strikes, and we are subjected to several hours of intense rainfall?

    We almost learned back in the late 1990’s. In January one year, that in itself being unusual, we experienced very heavy rain along the Northern Range and in Tobago. Several large landslips damaged the North Coast road to Maracas and Blanchisseuse, the Arima Blanchisseuse road and the Windward road in Tobago. But we were lucky: The same system moved along the North Coast of Venezuela as it intensified, and destroyed whole communities, which were buried under mudslides. Thousands of people were killed.

    So, are we ready for that? We think not.

    We hope that at least all of our drains can be cleared immediately, in spite of the bureaucratic blockages we understand are “blocking” this work, and look forward to publishing the maps showing the exit routes out of the city should these be needed.


  11. After Hurricane Rita(A few weeks after Katrina, in 2005) evacuation from Houston and Harris County became a disaster in itself. Everyone took to the road at the same time, taking all their vehicles with them. Familes of four jumped one to a car, SUV or truck and hit the road in a convoy, without gas supplies, or water.
    You talk about mess?( A bus caught fire from overheating, and all the people in it, elderly and handicapped who were being evacuated, died). It took me four hours to get to my friend’s house on higher ground.(34 miles). My son driving his company’s truck with medical records and digitized data for most of the county took 15 hours to get to Austin normally 2 hour journey.

    After that mess, Harris County, as well as Fort Bend Galveston and Brazoria Counties our neighbors close to Galveston Bay, did some joint planning for moving masses of people.
    Ths is what we came up with. Great semicircular lines were drawn across the map, and each zone color coded.
    The tri-county area would order evacuation based on proximity to the sea. Police would man barricades so that no one in safer areas could get on the highway until the zones closest to the sea were cleared.IKE came over an eighteen foot sea wall, so you see why evacuation from the coast must be first.
    Only one car per family, unless there are more than four people. Family pets could not be carried unless they were in the car with you.
    Contraflow was used. This means that designated highways became one way only. In evacuating POS for example no traffic woould be allowed into Port-of-Spain. the EMR, CRHighway, Foreshore Lady Young Road and other major arteries would flow outward only.
    Buses are more efficient at evacuating than cars. They ride higher in the water and many modern ones have the sensitive parts of the engines riding four feet above the ground.
    Tanker trucks would be stationed along major highways for refuelling vehicles directly from the truck, and you can only pull over to refill if your tank had less than half. There would be police officers to man those impromptu gas stations.

    As a result when IKE was heading dead on for us, the largest hurricane anyone had ever seen in that it filled up the Gulf of Mexico, the evacuation plans worked smoothly. The police went to evacuate a few people caught in a storm surge before the hurricane hit, a whole day early, because their road would be under water. Those refusing to leave were offered army type “dog-tags” so that their bodies could be identified later. It was as serious as that. The police made it clear that they were NOT coming back to get you.

    One man wanted to be evacuated but did not want to leave his pet lion behind. Sorry the police were not equipped to deal with pet lions. Later he called screaming (i understand )begging them to come get him because his lion was acting strange. The road was already underwater. The lion, folks say, was later found safely sitting on the altar of a nearby church- pews flooded. No trace of the man was ever found.

    We hesitate to ever declare a state of emergency in TnT. In the US they proclaim one as soon as a disaster looms. That way you cannot get on the road with your broken down old car, stall and block traffic. Old and handicapped people are urged to register for evacuation if they cannot get themselves out. The US Army has vehicles that can ride, in a dry cab, six feet in flooded water and such a vehicle would go get the old ones.

    There were much fewer deaths from Ike than from Katrina, because of planning and co-ordination.We can learn a lot from Cuba about mandatory evacuations. When, in Harris County they issue such an order, they may close the road a few hours later, if you want to stay and drown wear a dogtag so your family could identify your remains.

    I do not think there is a doctor in private practice here, (Harris County)who will not help. His/her license would be in jeopardy.

    For Trinidad, I would recommend an emergency police post on the lookout of the LAdy Young Road equipped with erth moving vehicles for tackling landslids- this would not be a high wind recommendation, based on direction, but get earthmovers up there wile the road is still open. then you can clear the landslips going downhill. Other high points for staging equipment could be the hills above the new housing flats at the entrance to the Diego Martin valley, Old St. Josepgh road and near that cemetery off the Eastern Main Road in St. Josephon the opposite side from the police station.

    An engineering team may identify other strategic staging areas, to help clear roads when bloods come. In the central part of the island, the overpasses on the highway would have to be where the equipment is staged. Police need to be given the authority to shoot on sight, anyone trying to steal heavy equipment from the staging areas. The state in issuing an Emergency Order, will have the right to COMANDEER ALL HEAVY EQUIPMENT that can be used for road clearing.

    In the face of a threat of flooding, all government ofices should evacuate ALL movable equipment to the second and third floors as sghould all banks and other businesses in flood prone areas. People should remember that ATMs do not work when all electric lines are down, and should take the necessry precautions.

    Now, you see why I am not in politics?

  12. Today is the tenth anniversary of Tropica Storm Allison. It dropped 31 inches of rain in Houston, and was so bad, its name was retired. Now the hospitals have flood gates, and there are retention ponds capable of holding millions of cubic feet of water. Details? http://www.harriscounty.gov.tx.us.

  13. A letter writer to two major dailies today, asked “Where will the retention pond, go, Mr Warner?” He notes that there is nowhere in WOODBROOK to put one. True. You have to put the pond above where the streets flood. Because I had suggested that a number of floods ago, I propose that we build one in the Queens Park Savana. A lake half a mile on each side, and sixty feet deep can hold millions of gallons of water. The US army Corps of Engineers can do this, as part of an economic aid package, instead of giving more military aid. The lake can be used as a recreation area.It can be stocked with fish, have a ramp for small water craft in a designated area and can be quite an enhancement to the area.A jogging path could be put around it, an a strict “No dogs, leashed or otherwise” rule enforced. The donors of that piece of land meant it to be for the benefit of Port of Spain.Woodbrook and the area near the bus port are pars of Port-of-Spain. If the pond(lake) is centrally placed in the savana, it will not affect Carnival. Water has to be diverted BEFORE it gets to the flood-prone area. Get some UWI Civil Engineering students working on feasibility studies as part of their graduation requirements. We have to stop thinking
    “WOodbrook” and think Port-of-Spain instead. Then we can build a super lake where the proposed Couva Airport would go. That would divert the run off from flooded rivers in the central plains.
    These man-made lakes can help stabilize our water supply.

    I can attest to what retention ponds have done for Harris County, Texas. Why not get some really good technical help that will help us think nationally and not about our village?

  14. The more I think about it, the more I like my idea of builing a lake in the savanaah, to hold the excess water from the St. Ann’s and Maraval Rivers.We have to sacrifice smething to get something better. This will be a massive engineering project that could take more than one year to complete, but it can be built in sections. The ring road around the savannah would have to be closed part of the time, or reduced to alternate lanes, to build the conduits from both rivers ito the Savannah.
    Currently, there is no body of water that is avilable for recreational purposes as well as for improving the awater supply. Since the NAvet dam was built, I do not know for sure that we built any other such facility There are major waterworks in the parks in almost every US city that I have visited. Of course they have mssive amounts of land, but its their engineering planning that stands out.

    I am trying to think of where the excavated earth from the savannah would go, but I cannot think of any place needing filling it. When we fill in things we disrut the natural water course.

    We could give to each household in POS one half a cubic yard of dirt, to which they would add compost and other utrients, to grow a few vegetables.Dirt from deep down would not normally be suitable for growing naything, but give it two seasons of expsure to the elements, and it would begin to turn into plantable soil. The rest would be needed for earthworks that would raise thee rim of the lake above the level of the regular ground.Football fields and others sports facilities that are now in the savannah, can beredesigned to fit the new space. Those needing parks would still have Lord Harris Square, Woodford Square and the park in Woodbrook near St Crispins.

    Ornamental trees, like the old ones planted around the Savannah many many years ago, can be planted near the new lake, which could be named for the famiy that donated the land so long years ago.

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