Tuesday, December 6, 2011

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Landslides Hit Northern Trinidad!

Over 13 early-morning landslides cut off parts of the Paria Main Road from Sans Souci to Grande Riviere, in north east Trinidad after heavier-than-usual rainfall over the weekend.

Lines of Toco-bound beach enthusiasts and weekend limers were forced to turn their vehicles around after several landslips of rocks, trees and other natural debris left the road impassible. One of the landslides claimed the life of Sans Souci resident Joseph Hagley. Works and Infrastructure Minister Jack Warner, who was called out of church just before 6 a.m., was on the scene with trucks and heavy equipment from his Ministry trying to clear the muddied road. Warner, who has been busy dealing with natural disasters along the East-West Corridor, Diego Martin, Maraval and surrounding areas, in the past few weeks, said the “mountains were angry”. “Look around, what are you seeing? People are cutting the hills for planting here in the country and cutting the hill for development in the city. These mountains are angry,” Warner said as he walked through the devastated areas and paused to talk to the family of the landslide victim. “The mountains have been denuded in several places and wherever that has happened you can actually see the landslips taking place,” he said. “This cannot continue. As it is now we have to reforest the mountains. We also have to clear the water courses and would have to ‘bench’ the mountains as well,” he said.
“Whether is Maraval, whether it’s Alyce Glen whether it’s here in Toco, the mountains are saying enough is enough. We cannot fight against nature all the time. We could have the best will in the world, build as many retaining walls as we want at the end of the day we have to keep the mountains,” he said. “But this too is an area that has been neglected and I am not assigning blame but this area has been neglected over the years and we are paying the price for that. The area has not been given the attention it deserves and we are reaping that right now,” he said. Warner said the financial losses of devastation were hard to calculate at this time. “But based on my experience in the Ministry of Works, TT$20 million would be a conservative figure,” he said. Warner also delivered a message of sympathy to the Hagley family from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. While Warner said the Government would pay the cost of funeral expenses, he also gave the family his personal contact number and told the widow to call him if she needed help.

Other homeowners were also affected, but while their homes remained intact, piles of sludge and mud were packed up against the back of several homes and others were inundated with the muddy mess as well. Martin Terry Rondon, councillor for the area, said 10 power-saw crews and three backhoe crews were working on clearing the trees and other debris from the affected areas. An official at the Meteorological Office in Piarco said between Friday and yesterday there was more than two inches of rain. He said while the natural conditions that created the weather patterns were normal, the amount of rainfall was unusually high and caused the soil to become too saturated. The weather also affected parts of Tobago as a landslide cut off parts of the Charlotteville link road, but Allan Stewart, director of the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), said cadets and protective services were out already clearing the blockage. He said there was no severe damage to residential areas. - Stabroek News.

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