'Minor storm' causes 'major losses' in parts of Trinidad and Tobago

'Minor storm' causes 'major losses' in parts of Trinidad and Tobago


A screenshot from a YouTube video by Alvin Birbal, showing the flooding in some parts of Trinidad and Tobago after the passage of Tropical Storm Bret on June 19, 2017

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — As of 5 am on June 20, 2017, the tropical storm warning that was in effect for Trinidad and Tobago was discontinued — but in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Bret, the humour and lightheartedness of storm night has taken a sobering turn.

There were also reports of landslips, fallen trees, and rivers bursting their banks, but thankfully no loss of life, save for one incident in which a man fell and broke his neck running from the heavy rains.

Many netizens shared their photographs and videos via Twitter. On Facebook, Taran Rampersad shared photos and stories, and gave updates on several areas across the country, including reports that Mosquito Creek, a major south causeway that hugs the coastline, was flooded, making access from south Trinidad to the central and north of the island quite difficult.

In a moment of frustration, he added: “Everyone sees what’s wrong with Mosquito Creek – has seen it for generations. But it’s south of the Light House, so no one seems to care.”

Because most businesses and government services are centralised in Port of Spain, there is a common perception that any place beyond the lighthouse — which is situated on the perimeter of the capital city — is of no import.

Nigel Wall, who posted a photo of the flooded Barrackpore area, echoed that concern: “Because the government and Port of Spain is ok, no word from the authorities on what they are doing in the South.”

Facebook user Kelly Warren Fitzjames, who lives in Brasso Seco, a rural community in northern Trinidad, provided an update:

“Rains all night and still falling, electricity gone since 9pm and roads blocked in several places (flooding and slush by quarry, landslides by Christophene king, large tree falls before Asa Wright and perhaps more). Ministry of works already starting from quarry with backhoes to clear the roads. Phones still in operation (thanks to TSTT’s new cell site generator) but cell phones will be losing charge soon with no way to recharge until roads are cleared and T&TEC can reach inside. No personal injuries or property damage that I know of after making several calls to residents.”

The “Christophene king” she refers to is a farmer who grows the vegetable in an ecologically unsustainable way, causing great danger to the already precarious road that borders his area. Asa Wright is a nature centre that has taken great care to preserve the rain forest of Trinidad’s northern range. TSTT is the state telecommunications provider, and T&TEC is the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission.

The storm also affected the water supply in some areas.

On Facebook, Rhoda Bharath warned of “mischief makers” circulating fake flood videos, and several people that Global Voices spoke to reported getting WhatsApp messages containing old flood videos.

Naturally, Wired868’s Mr Live Wire chose to look at the more amusing side of the situation, calling Tropical Storm Bret “the biggest case of overselling the damn thing since President Carmona claimed to be a superhero whose powers were pre-action protocol letters, distraction and donkey logic”, but Twitter user Judy Raymond summed it up well: “Some people suffered major losses in a minor storm. The season has only just begun–and we don’t usually get hit at all. Fingers crossed…”

This article written by Janine Mendes-Franco originally appeared on Global Voices on June 21, 2017