By Indira Moosai
On Oct. 20, a national disaster was declared in Trinidad when flooding took place after unprecedented rainfall. There continues to be rain and landslides that are affecting an estimated 120,000 people. Many are trapped and have lost their belongings, left without basic necessities such as food, water and shelter. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), whose purpose is to provide is guidance and services in case of a disaster, has been under fire for their delay in rescuing people.
“It’s heartbreaking to see all of the damage and distress that my country is experiencing,” said Daniella Bhagwansingh-Lee, junior business management and administration major from Trinidad. “Many of my friends and family are stranded in their homes or workplaces because the roads are completely flooded and are impassable.”
Many were trapped and took to social media to get help. One citizen, Jizzelle Baldwin, a diabetic, posted that she was stranded for more than 14 hours in a vehicle with four children, all under the age of nine; she was rescued by a man on a boat who saw her post, according to The Trinidad Guardian. Some people had to climb onto refrigerators to avoid flood waters, and then push through ceiling tiles to keep their heads above the water.
“[The flood] definitely opened not just my eyes, but the citizens of T&T[Trinidad & Tobago]s’ eyes, regarding how important it is to really be aware of their actions, i.e dumping big loads of garbage and wastes into the now overflowing rivers and drains,” said Rachael Ramchand, freshman international business major.
While flooding does occur due to heavy, prolonged rainfall, man’s activities and environmental degradation have played the biggest part in increasing the frequency and severity of floods, according to The Trinidad Guardian. This includes improper waste disposal, which causes waste to accumulate in drains, compromising their abilities to transport runoff out of popular areas.
“The people of Trinidad & Tobago need to be fully educated about the importance of the environment and the management of their wastes,” said Ramchand. “The government needs to ensure this happens whether it be publicly raising awareness of how they can properly remove their wastes, or by teaching it to students in schools nationwide. The environment has never been something that is taken very seriously in my country, and as a result, this is the consequence.”
Along with the flood, two earthquakes hit Trinidad, the first being a 4.2 tremor on Oct. 20 and the second being a 5.1 tremor on Oct. 21.
“At this point, persons could donate to any organizations collecting donations to send to Trinidad,” said Brittni Thompson, junior allied health major.
Jessica Cartwright, senior accounting major and President of of UT’s Caribbean Student Association (CSA), said CSA is collecting items such as canned goods, water, toiletries, clothes, cleaning supplies, and anything you wish to donate. Their meetings are Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in Lecture Hall A. For more information, email email@example.com.
“From CSA, we send our condolences to those who may have lost their homes or family members, especially to our members from that beautiful country,” said Cartwright. “[We] pray for a quick recovery for Trinidad and Tobago.”
To donate monetarily, the Joint Chambers of Trinidad has created funding platforms to donate: https://wifundyou.com/campaign/22/trinidad-flood-relief.
The Joint Chambers has indicated that all funds will be deposited to the Living Water Community RBC account, a local non-governmental organization that is helping aid flood victims. The account will be audited by Aegis, a staff that monitors the audits of an organization, to ensure the funds to towards helping victims.
Indira Moosai can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org