STREET VIBES: God is not Trini and doesn’t condone recklessness; stop building in flood-prone areas!

Now that Bret has blown over, many of us breathe a sigh of relief. We can take a deep breath as we crawl from the confines of our dry, safety zones to engage in the post mortem analysis of what to some was a storm in a teacup.

Others are not as fortunate as they remain waist deep in muddy waters with scattered creepy, crawly creatures; they remain breathless.

My post mortem begins with seeking to clarify what precisely constitutes a ‘natural disaster’. For too long this nation has been operating under the premise that “God is a Trini.”

Photo: Jesus, you were toting about Father Harvey in truth?

While this may be humorous, many seem to hold this as some ordained truth. A young man someplace in Vega De Oropouche sitting on the trunk of a submerged car, smiling, says that most of us manage to maintain our sense of humour, despite adversities.

It is also an indication of our recklessness combined with our inability to understand the seriousness of the matter at hand.

Nonetheless, natural disasters must be understood as separate from man-made disasters. I hold and maintain that most of what we call ‘natural disasters’ in Trinidad—in particular, floods—are really man-made disasters.

Having been involved in assisting persons affected by floods in the past, the knee-jerk response from governmental agencies has been distributing food hampers to people whose kitchen appliances were still under water. I have also watched while the regiment distributed mattresses to ‘needy persons’ where persons would ‘need’ as many mattresses as one could carry.

This was practiced year-in year-out, with no accountability. I observed first-hand where an individual went around the corner with four mattresses on his head, announced to others unaware that ‘they giving out mattresses round the corner’ and everyone proceeded to collect as many as they could carry.

Photo: A Diego Martin looks on the brighter side in the aftermath of flooding in 2015.
(Copyright TTNewsFlash)

This arrangement has characterised the government’s response to ‘natural disasters’ for years on end. Meanwhile, the real issue is never addressed.

It is my analysis that a disaster cannot be ‘natural’ when persons willingly and knowingly build in flood-prone areas, then hold prayer vigils, annually, to escape floods. This is sanctioned irresponsibility of the highest order when we are known to have two seasons in a tropical climate: dry season and rainy season.

One may recall part of the Manzanilla road being washed out recently, along with a home on the beach. The owner all but demanded that the government rebuild her home. I am not a religious or even a spiritual person, but one of the good books speak to the man who built his house upon the sand.

To build in flood prone areas and then hope that one will not be flooded surpasses sheer ignorance. That the authorities—be they town and country, regional corporations, boroughs, et al—continue to deal with such on an annual basis is frightening and irresponsible to say the least.

The same people get flooded out and need assistance as part of an annual ritual. As long as either governmental agencies, NGOs and/or private citizens continue to ‘donate’ to these annual rituals, persons who claim victim status will come to believe that they are entitled to such assistance with each rainfall.

Photo: Well, actually you should make time to ensure your own safety.

This nation has ‘farmers’ who have gotten wealthy from government subsidies by claiming to have lost millions in crops when they never planted anything; the evidence having been ‘washed away.’

One of the hallmarks of a nation acquiring ‘developed nation’ status demands that citizens move away from irresponsible behaviour.

The challenge is how do we get citizens to:

  1. stop believing that God is a Trini;
  2. understand that their actions have reactions, often with serious consequences;
  3. stop engaging in such reckless and irresponsible behaviour in the future.

Does the government have a responsibility to its citizens; and what precisely is that responsibility?  Furthermore, where does government’s responsibility end and individual’s responsibility begin?

Dr Rowley spoke briefly, recently on the role of government. But, as citizens, we too have a responsibility—if only to ourselves and our families—to ensure their safety by not placing them in harm’s way.

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  1. Take a lesson from the Guyanese. Georgetown is below sea level. Parts of the city floods continuously. The solution, build high off of the ground, have deep drains/ ravines in the community. Long ago, many people in flood prone areas built their houses on stilts. They used bricks, coconut tree stumps, stumps from other big trees to lift the house about three- four feet off of the ground. Or, the living sleeping areas were upstairs, and the cooking, eating areas were downstairs. Now the downstairs is enclosed, and ‘rented out’. Then, we went modern, and started putting houses flat on the ground. ‘Ah building a flat house’.
    Nature has no respect for fashion or style.

  2. ……and what build in d sky……..

  3. Wow… there were many areas flooded this time for the first time simply because of clogged waterways, undredged rivers, land developing without making drainage.
    I am 50 now and grew up in penal which always prone to flood but have never seen this kind of flood… which were much higher levels than times before and lasted for longer periods.
    It’s so easy to talk when you have no clue of the real suffering going on in these areas.

  4. When I was at TTT, I was sent out to cover massive flooding on the Maracas Valley Road in St Joseph. This is not a low-lying area. I was also sent out to cover flooding in Barataria, San Juan, Valsayn and Maraval. Should we blame these folks as well for living in these areas? 😉

    • Fair question and its obvious that not all the people affected by Bret were living in flood-prone areas. I got the impression that the author was pointing towards people in flood-prone areas who get flooded out every rainy season.

      • Context Lasana. Had this article been written at any other time than the present, Rudy Paul’s comments may have been generally agreed with, but having written it now, when persons are suffering in floods, it makes him look as if he is condemning the said persons. It is all about time and place.

        This was the wrong time to victim blame (if there’s ever a right time).

        • Is it victim blaming to say if you live in a flood-prone area, you are likely to be flooded so don’t expect financial help if you are?
          I feel like I just got flooded with political correctness. Lol.
          All the same, it is true that the column does run the risk of being insensitive to those dealing with floods right know. (As did my satire recently).
          It is also true that not everyone who was flooded lives in high risk areas. And such persons would rightly feel aggrieved. So Rudy and I could both have been more PC.
          But a good time to talk about our manner of handling floods is at a time when the topic is alive though. We can’t really blame the columnist for that right?
          You would prefer if he said nothing and waited for a moment when flooding was the last thing on anyone’s mind?

    • What say you about the capital city then that floods with every sprinkle of rain? 😉

    • Farcical and something that the Govt needs to look into, especially where it is caused by man-made elements. And a lot of it does. We have written about such issues already especially where it pertains to flooding around the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
      I don’t really see a direct link to this story though.

    • Should people move out of POS as well? Should everyone who lives in areas that flood move to higher ground? I have covered flooding all over this county and not just in low lying areas. And, yes, some of these areas flood every year. This is not a simple problem as we are trying to make it out to be.

    • Do POS businesses or residents flood out every year? I won’t confuse an annoying rise in water to a real flood. If POS really flooded in the way you are suggesting, the country wouldn’t be able to afford it as far as compensating businesses and so on.
      Certainly not if you use the precedent set in the State’s response elsewhere.
      Sure the column only touches on a part of the problem and not the entire thing. So it does simplify issues to some extent. But some of the critiques are also wide of the mark, such as comparing “flooding” in POS to flooding in Barrackpore and elsewhere.

    • Lasana I was a news reporter who was sent out to cover flooding every year, several times a year. In addition to the areas you mentioned, every year I covered flooding in the San Juan, Barataria, Maraval, Diego Martin, St. Anns and Santa Cruz. Sometimes, I was sent to Maracas St Joseph, Valsayn and Mayaro. I also covered flooding in Central. I am speaking based on FIELD EXPERIENCE. Should we also be telling all those people to move to higher ground? We can argue this all day and all night. This is a complex problem and we don’t accomplish anything by treating it as a cut and dry issue.

    • Narrisa, the crux of the column for me is whether the State should offer financial compensation to the same victims every year. I don’t know that the author singled out one specific area in his piece and I don’t have column opened at present.
      Do you think the State should financially compensate the same flood victims repeatedly and indefinitely?
      Are there more issues surrounding flooding? Yes. But how does that make the essential question of this column wrong or pointless?
      You don’t think that to be a fair question?

    • Quoted from the column:
      It is my analysis that a disaster cannot be ‘natural’ when persons willingly and knowingly build in flood-prone areas, then hold prayer vigils, annually, to escape floods. This is sanctioned irresponsibility of the highest order when we are known to have two seasons in a tropical climate: dry season and rainy season.
      To build in flood prone areas and then hope that one will not be flooded surpasses sheer ignorance. That the authorities—be they town and country, regional corporations, boroughs, et al—continue to deal with such on an annual basis is frightening and irresponsible to say the least.

      The same people get flooded out and need assistance as part of an annual ritual. As long as either governmental agencies, NGOs and/or private citizens continue to ‘donate’ to these annual rituals, persons who claim victim status will come to believe that they are entitled to such assistance with each rainfall.

    • Bloody hell Lasana, you think any of us believe the solution is for the government to continue to compensate people every year for damage incurred during floods? Oh gosh, give we some credit nah. What some of us are taking offence to are the excerpts I posted above.

    • Now that you are “bloody hell-ing” at me, I am going to require some counselling. Lol. Narrisa, some people do believe the State is obliged to compensate and have said so actually.
      So I genuinely wanted to know your thoughts on that.
      You take objection with Rudy saying it is irresponsible to build in flood-prone areas? The “sheer ignorance” bit?
      Or the fact that the column doesn’t spend enough time looking at different reasons why people are there in the first place?

    • Nah, bloody hell is mild man. As I said, I have been out on the field doing these stories for many years. I have gone into flooded communities and spoken to affected residents. I have seen first hand the devastation they have to cope with. Yes, there will always be a section of society who believe the state must compensate no matter what the circumstances. By the way, this is what we have been taught by our beloved politicians throughout the years.

      But the majority of people DO NOT want to be flooded out every year. IT IS AN ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE. And the money you get from the government cannot help you replace all that was lost. Many replace, repair and rebuild with the help of family and friends. But if you have not experienced it or gone out to see it yourself and spoken to affected families, it’s easy to sit behind a computer and judge.

      Here are the problems I have with this piece:
      * The erroneous belief that people are ignorant and irresponsible by building in “flood-prone” areas. Oh gosh, take a five minutes and do a lil research on how both our African and Indian settlements came about nah. I learnt this during 6th form history. In the case of the East Indian indentured labourers, many were given land in the swamp. Here is an excerpt from a Guardian article by Brinsley Samaroo. “Given swamplands by the colonial authorities after their indentureship was over, they also transformed wet, marshy areas, like Felicity, into thriving villages.”

      * To fix a problem, we have to first understand the nature of the problem. And this problem is not just a matter of people living in flood prone areas. Are we talking about just low-lying areas? If so, what about all the other places I have mentioned where I covered floods every year – Maraval, Diego Martin, Santa Cruz, Barataria, San Juan, St. Joseph, Mayaro etc. Do we blame them for their troubles because they all refuse to move? And if they all have the financial resources to move, where can we put all these people so they no longer have to worry about floods? Paramin? Lady Chancellor Hill? Cumaca?

      * Reducing damage caused by floods requires several strategies. Stronger control of hillside development. Enforcement of our littering laws. A consistent public education programme on littering and its consequences. A consistent public education programme on how we can responsibly and safely dispose of our waste. And then the proper management of our waterways. I am no engineer so I cannot mention solutions for this one. But maybe we need to take a look at how floods are managed in countries like the Netherlands and see what can be adapted for T&T.

      Of course, the easiest, laziest, most simplistic thing to do is say, all yuh ignorant for building and staying in flood prone areas. And all yuh feel entitled to the compensation every year. How many of those people you think really want to wake up to water in their homes destroying everything in its path?

      Do we know what it’s like not to have a dry place to sleep at night? Do we know what it’s like to not be able to cook a meal to feed one’s family? To look on as all our belongings destroyed by water? To worry about how will we find the money to replace our belongings? Have you seen the price of a stove or a fridge? A bed? Let’s not kid ourselves…that money from government ain’t going to go very far in replacing items. And given the run around one has to endure, there are many people who never claim.

      We don’t solve anything by oversimplifying a problem because we are too lazy to do a little research and reading.

      • Allow me to acknowledge from the inception that I am quite lazy. And to be honest, I am quite happy being lazy. I am not the overly ambitious type; come to think of it, I don’t even have ambition. However, I once managed to read someplace, I believe it might have been during one of my many stays at St Anns, about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. To tell say that “many repair, replace and rebuild,” I am going out on a limb here and assume, it’s in the same place, and not expect the same thing to happen again is a pack of jackassery which I have long gone past. . Besides, given swampland means it’s quite acceptable to build a house in the sawmp, ent? Pundit Siewdass had more sense than all you intellectuals piled up on each other. And his temple stands as a monument to his intellect, compared to the bag of dunce ruining (or running) this nation, ex-media employees included.

    • Well, it is for the benefit of readers that they know have more perspective on it. So I am grateful you shared Narrisa. And I agree that the column could have gone into more depth. (Pun unintended).

    • You being sent in these areas explains why TTT is still around.

    • I understand Narrisa Mandol’s perspectives and concerns but all of the dynamics of flooding could not be addressed in a short article which focused on a particular dimension of the problem. Flooding in upland areas also have some degree of their genesis in human induced actions. Building approvals for developments on fragile erodible hillsides are the major sources of problems in the several areas listed as part of your valuable experiences in reporting on flooding. Great land use planners like the late Lynette Atwell fought hard against hillside development and the Late Independent Senator, Angela Cropper piloted motions based upon the 2004 EMA State of the Environment Report towards protecting the Northern Range as a natural resource providing ecological goods and services that are not quantified in national accounting. None of this could be attempted in such a short but solid article on one major aspect of a much larger problem. Thank you Lasana Liburd.

    • Lasana Liburd Have to agree with Narissa. You think it’s simple to just pack up and leave? And go where? Should God forbid your area flood for some reason are you going to pick up lock,stock and barrel and move somewhere else? Sometimes flooding is caused by man. Remember the floods in 2012 which devastated the West, including my daughter’s apartment in Petit Valley, well those were caused by construction of some fancy apartments higher up the hill and the runoff wreaked devastation. Maraval residents and businesses always getting flooded out because of the clogged river. Are they to move as well? I rest my case.

  5. All these persons sub dividing land and selling without approvals. Town and Country and Regional Cooperation do your jobs.. Stop unapproved developments… unapproved developments do not have properly constructed inadequate drainage and detention systems…

  6. Well give the people land in high areas so they will build and have no problem..

  7. Preach brother! Couldn’t be said any better! People simply need to be responsible. In flood prone areas build your homes off the ground. Plant crops in these areas during the dry season using some form of irrigation. We need to let good sense prevail. It makes no sense doing things the same way and getting the same results.

  8. Rudy Paul, your analysis is flawed on many levels, especially within the context of what is going on in Central and South at the moment. Perhaps you did not intend to be but your article appears to be insulting, ignorant of facts and insensitive.

    The majority of homes flooded in South have NOT been built on or near river banks. This issue with the house in Manzanilla occurred as a result of a ingenious contractor who blocked the channel for the free flow of water. That project was being done on behalf of Emperor Valley Zoo.

    When POS floods, do you blame the Syrians for building on reclaimed land?

    I don’t have the will to expose your flawed arguments line by line, but suffice it to say that what is going on in South is indeed a natural disaster.

  9. If you have to build in these areas, build on high posts and do not occupy downstairs also build a ramp to keep vehicle above ground.

  10. Going forward, start with Town and Country Planning which must accept a lot of responsibility as they are supposed to approve development in all areas. Then we can move to the Land Settlement Agency or whichever dept is respomsible for State lands and dealing with squatting. We have lots of helicopters so there is no reason why anyone clearing land on the hills or in forests should be able to do that without some official intervention. Regular flybys by the copters will reduce squatting, illegal clearing of hills, illegal quarrying and creation of marijuana plantations.

  11. Even if you build in a flood prone area, let’s say you didn’t think out. What have done to reduce the flooding in your area of space? Further to that some people have upstairs and downstairs in the house and wait till the water reach knee high then you looking to make thing higher? Your house lower than the road and you didn’t expect flooding?
    What about free government sandbags or training offered in how to protect your home? What if you had gone to town and country and they gave you advise on why not to concrete all of your grounds and uproot the natural vegetation? Or taking a truck bed and fill up the natural water course so you can increase your farm lands? We blame the government for many things and yes they do miss the mark at times. But let’s be serious how many really prepared for Bret answer these questions and you will then be on the path to growth

  12. As for agriculture, that seems to be an annual problem. Where is are relevant associations to get insurance coverage?

  13. The lack of planning in Trinidad and Tobago is evident. In 2017, instead of floods being a thing of the past, the situation is actually getting worse!

    For far too long, successive governments have relied on natural watercourses to take away rainfall and floodwaters. This is the height of stupidity, or is it the depths of stupidity?

    Infrastructure planning should actually have been making – or start making now! – Artificial “storm drains” to take away run-off. A simple thing – to dredge rivers annually has never been implemented. Building box drains is just not enough, although it may be the best away to reward political cronies. It is the bigger watercourses that need attention.

    It does make you wonder about the qualifications of engineers working in the Ministry of Infrastructure (wherever that may be assigned at the moment).

  14. Note: the views expressed by Rudy Paul are not those of the poor, the less fortunate in the society who did not inherit land in a planned residential area, the many who could not have afforded a house, those who do not hold a party card and were able to get a HDC home or those who work for minimum wage.
    Father forgive him for he know not what he has done.

  15. There should be stricter building codes. Anyway Most people stealing land and building without caring that there act will result in flooding. Government has to become tougher on squatters.

  16. Disgusting PNM red and dead mentality… the people who build in flood prove areas represent less than 5% or even less than 1% of those affecting by flooding …

    The flooded areas simply don’t have proper drainage infrastructure…
    While Every PNM voting area Between Post Of Spain to Valencia, on the foothills of the northern range are flood prone, but yet rarley floods because of mostly adequate drainage infrastructure.

    this “logic” of the typical PNM supporter who tries to shift blame, is not founded in fact…

    Non-PNM voting areas simply don’t have proper drainage infrastructure…
    and you could blame, Panday, God or Kamla but you’d be a liar… because you know in your heart the PNM is to blame..

    • I apologize but .. you’re a total idiot … why didn’t panday or Kamela fix it when they were in power or further more the constituency leader??? To say the pnm is to blame shows your ignorance and pnm nigger unc cooli attitude .. word of advice .. forget politics .. you would be doing yourself a great favor ..

    • As always..blame the PNM…why should anyone take the blame for the nonsense they do…blame PNM, build a flat house on a river bank, floods come…blame PNM…tropical storm bring exorbitant rain, PNM fault…anything that anyone does that does not turn out right…BLAME THE F***ING PNM…in or out of gov’t, everything is their fault…dont you get it…oh shucks man…

    • Apparently my last name is not “Indian sounding” enought for you to try and ascertain my ethnicity. A simple look on social media will reveal a pic profile. And FYI, neither the red nor yellow gang will affiliate with a fulltime jackass like myself.

    • Evey Mckenzie Do you blame Hitler for the Holocaust ?

      how about being honest for once in your life..
      the former PNM administration developed T&T along biased lines..
      we today have to live with the skewed infrastructure ..

      If you think, PNM voting areas and non-PNM voting areas have equal infrastructure,, then you must also think, there is total race equality in the USA .. How can you be so blind to something that is so blatantly obvious ?

    • Evey Mckenzie As I said,, the VAST majority of people affected BUILT LEGALLY in RESIDENTIAL AREAS …

      your justification about those who deserve to be flooded out account for what? 5%? 3% of the affected people ?

  17. Everything that affects farmers affects most retail businesses. Storms, rain, poor management lack of contingency and floods. I never got any compensation. On another issue : my memories as a child was all the houses from the Bamboo right through the Caroni plains where built on stilts. How has the wisdom of the Grandparents got lost? The floods have always been there and people built to their environment

  18. Ironically, no one is mentioning that some citizens reside in areas that are not prone to flooding. However, due to private construction of townhouse developments by unscrupulous developers, who do not follow the rules with regards to regulations and building codes yet they are given approval by the relevant agencies. As a result of their negligence and lack of concern for the environment flooding issues occure during inclement weather.

  19. Too serious to be laughing. I know

  20. Good analysis. Of course there are other causes but his main theory about human causes and impacts on flooding must not be under estimated. The point about legacy land is taken but if the problem was initiated a hundred years ago, must it be allowed unchecked then ask the rest of society to compensate for losses? River reserves left under natural vegetation, are necessary yet people build on the edge of water courses, often on land that does not belong to them. The Wild West grab for land, mostly state land, has been a huge contributor to flooding and land slides over the years. Analysis is complex and too long for such an article but applause for the summation of key elements by the author. Let us take him seriously please.

  21. St Helena, via Madrass Road has been flooding since Garcia was in short pants. And ppl purchase land cheap, “full it up” and think they’re safe. The mosque right next to the canal is a prime example of jackassery at its best.

  22. ministry of planning have to take front and start issuing fines to people who blocking rivers etc

    • Address problem of squatting?
      At the same time, we need the regional corporations to ensure water courses are cleared!
      Let each region give an account of when last they were cleared, the answer might surprise you.
      Also, not only water courses. When we grade down mountains to build houses or to illegally quarry or plant, then run off from rainfall is faster, nothing to hold soil, erosion, silt in water courses/landslides.
      How are we addressing that?

  23. People who are familiar with this area BEFORE the development say this is a water table

  24. Oropune Gardens is one example of this!!! new homeowners (recent mortgages) are reeling after EVERY TORRENT… long before Bret.

  25. We have been rewarding irresponsibility, theft, and corruption in this land for so long now that it has come to be the standard for doing business. Speak of doing the right thing and one runs the risk of being nailed to a cross.

  26. Yes, I’m happy to see that there are some solid thinking people out here still. Why in tarnation would you build/ plant in areas prone to flooding? If every single gosh darned year, the place flooding when two bucket of rain falls, why don’t you look to plant somewhere else or build your darn house on stilts? But I can’t vex with stupid people, I have to vex with the agencies that fail us. I hope we have agencies that manage construction and the like. Anyhow why am I upsetting myself? We like it so!

  27. I was in South today. People built their homes on the river bank.

  28. I was in South today. People built their homes on the river bank.

  29. Trinidadians are lawless, they build anywhere, Then there are areas where people have been living for years and never experienced flood, but suddenly you see gated communities just showing up (not squatters). Did they get approval to build? check out how many Ministers, large contractors have gated communities, or their immediate families. Early years St James and Woodbrook never flooded. How much construction has taken place in the West over the last 40 years. Maraval River, Diego Martin River devastating floods. There are high rise on all the hills, sad to say its the people in the valley who experience the pain, not those going further up onto the mountain Now these are people who have money . Have you noticed roads and electricity are put in placer before the developers move in. Grease hand in T&T , The there are those in Aranguez, who literally built on the River bank and when the homes began to slip in the river, they complained to the government , a retaining wall was built. Farmers in Aranguez experience this annually .We don’t hold people accountable for their foolishness, we pacify them for votes. I grew up next to the St Joseph river so I know about floods, it originates from Maracas St Joseph and flows down to the Caroni River. when will we learn? No blame the government

  30. What about the amount of trash/rubbish in the water ways. Needs to be implementation of anti-litter laws and it is about time that a thrust is made to have different days for collecting household trash for example: one day for paper, one for plastic then one for other household trash. The plastic can be shredded and the paper if not recycled here could be sold to international company to be recycles. NEED TO GET TOUCH ON TRASH.

  31. I am 38 year old some of these places flooding since I’m small …so it’s nothing new Just the government

  32. Hey the HDC build Oropune in a place where it is sure to flood , now this could work but the engineers had to do their work not what they might now try to do after the fact and another thing what about the building codes , amajor part is build on the river bank ,heaven help us , they are the ones with the degree and such

  33. Infustrucre can solve flooding in these areas. These areas have been neglected.

  34. Well everybody wanna build pon floodplains

  35. Where we would like people to live though? We trying to relocate the whole of Barrackpore? And put the people where?
    Everybody living in an area that was hit hard by Bret isn’t some sort of irresponsible home owner praying for a natural disaster so they can ask for a government handout.

    • Then the status quo should remain?

    • Where would you like to relocate them to? All the ppl who living in areas that were hard hit? Where to put them?

    • We endorse the jackassery by our support, directly or indirectly, year in year out. Barrackpore and other areas dind’t just start flooding yesterday. As a little fella travelling to south I recall seeing little boats under people’s homes. Never understood what they were for until I became and adult. The older folks knew the areas were flood prone. However, the younger ones came in and blocked off down stairs and moved in, “hoping” that floods don’t come. And monkey see monkey do… It’s like the guy and his family living in the shack in a lagoon…

    • I’m still not understanding where we would like people to live. Barrackpore is not the only place that was hard hit. If people with the solution can say where to put all these people then maybe they would move.

    • Chabeth Haynes Many of these homes have been built on agricultural land specifically for rice. We see it on the bypass road from Pasea road to the Caroni bridge which, until recently, was used to plant dasheen. Massive buildings have now replaced the dasheen patches.

    • Would you build a house is a flood prone area? Moreover, would you purchase a piece of land in a flood prone area?

    • Ok. So you talking about the commercial warehouse looking structures? That home store (can’t remember the name) just opened up in the back there of st Augustine south. That’s what you’re talking about?
      Cause this article talking about residences and people choosing to live in flood prone areas and looking for handouts from the government. So all I’m trying to find out is where we want the people to go? After decades of living there, we saying we should now uproot them and relocate them to where?

    • Decades of doing shit doesn’t make it sugar. We have been, and a continue to be, a lawless society; doing what the hell we want where no one to tell us anything–be it driving illegally, parking illegally, building illegally…Everyone is a law unto themselves. Undoing years of dotishness is not going to be EZ, and is not a job for the faint hearted. In other words, ti will never get done and 50 years from a different generation will be having this same convo.

    • While the article focuses on residential, the bigger discussion is about big, irresponsible ppl doing dotishness for years on end, like building or planting in flood prone areas.

    • Right. But if we going to quarrel with people for building in certain areas, then we need to provide them with alternative locations to build. And at prices they can afford. I don’t see anybody doing that.

    • We is people who find the people living in flood prone areas irresponsible and shouldn’t be living there.
      I will say however, that I don’t think the solution is relocating all these people. I would think these people should have the necessary insurance coverage. Even if that coverage is a state/private enterprise partnership.

    • Would you owning an insurance company take that risk? It’s like insuring sick people after finding out they are HIV positive.

    • We are now told that a $20,000 grant is available to people who were affected by the flood. As a responsible citizen I am asked to pay property taxes and get nothing in return for my responsibility. It therefore pays to be irresponsible in this land where jackassery rules.

    • Insurance companies around the world insure homeowners in flood prone areas. The premiums are higher which is why I suggested a partnership with the state to bring the premiums down to affordable levels.
      And you making it sound as if all these people not being asked to pay property tax too. These people are property owners too.

    • Insurance doesn’t cover squatters ma’am.

      Further, if you decide to squat, find a better spot.

      Further, squatting is illegal. Leaving squatters to put down roots is irresponsible. The responsible agencies should enforce the law with extreme prejudice. Squatters lived somewhere else before they went to squat. They need to go back there and be law-abiding citizens like the rest of us. If they are illegal immigrants then they need to be deported.

      I can’t be following the law and doing the right things while you get to squat and get government handouts. That cannot continue.

      Squatting/unplanned development is a hazard to everyone. It generally results in environmental degradation, lower quality of life for both squatters and law abiding citizens, expenses to the state and tax payers among other things.

      We need to stop enabling law breaking.

    • “Insurance doesn’t cover squatters” EXACTLY!!!

    • Why do you think everybody in Barrackpore is a squatter? You all bringing all kinds of prejudices into this yes…

    • I really can’t believe that you all think that everybody in these hard hit areas are squatters. That is wow…

    • If they are not squatters, then they would have either purchased or , inherited the land. If they purchased it, whose responsibility was it to insure that the area does not flood? And if they inherited it then they should have known that ti does indeed flood.

    • Flooding is one thing. What about those thar decide to build on the side of a mountain or edge of a cliff then demand infrastructure and don’t expect to go sliding down the hill in a land slide? Or the really bright ones that go and live in the river bed?

    • Chabeth Haynes Partnering with the state? And where does the state get its funding from again? So insurance subsided by my tax dollars to fund irresponsibility; year in year out

    • Most of the people in Barrackpore are squatters? There are places that were hard hit that have people living in state constructed housing.
      Whose responsibility is it to ensure that the area doesn’t flood? Is that a serious question? When POS flood whose responsibility is it to make sure POS don’t flood?

    • The jackasses at the ministry of planning, from the very top from rowley to the likes of camille, who can’t even plan her own life, are responsible for planning in this land. The Oropune housing project is a good example of the jackassery. The Oropune houses were built specifically to swing the St Augustine seat, in case you’re not aware.

    • Rudy, i just disagree with you that people’s choice to live in these flood prone areas can be chalked up solely to irresponsibility. There are other factors.
      Apart from which… if they dont live there, where would they live? you still havent provided alternative locations. Can we all fit in the areas that are not flood prone?
      and if we can’t all fit in areas that are not flood prone, doesnt that mean that some people have to live in the flood prone areas? and if lack of space demands that some people live in the flood prone areas, shouldnt they get some extra help because we need them to live there?

    • Ok. So the state building in flood prone areas is not the fault of the people who live there. They just want somewhere to live. If that’s where they can get, then what are they to do?

    • People look to the for state housing largely because they know they can lapse on their payments for years with no real consequences. State housing is historically provided in return for votes. Explain how 150,000 people on a “waiting list for a government house.”

    • None of that have anything to do with flooding though. If the state wants to build in flood prone areas, vex with the state, not the people who just want/need a roof over their head. If the state built elsewhere, the people would go elsewhere.

    • so the status quo should remain nice.

    • The state takes advantage of poor people and has been doing precisely that from the very inception. Poor people are worth no more than a stained-finger every election. They are placed strategically for that purpose. It allows the red and ready or the yellow and steady gang to make claims of constituency X being “a safe seat.” Po people don’t have much choice. They take what they get, unlike the two senior regiment men who got million dollar apartments.

    • Rudy, I’m no longer understanding who you’re upset with as it relates to the flooding? The state or ppl who built homes in these flood prone areas?

    • Chabeth Haynes In my parents’s days (I’m 62) when they were unable to read and write and didn’t know better, we could have blamed them for “not knowing better.” In this day and age, I cannot and will not excuse BS under the pretext that people don’t know better. We need to stop making excuses for big people, who spend millions putting up structures in areas which are known to be flood prone. Little children don’t build houses. They are built by adults who have both experience and common sense and should know better. Filling up the areas will not prevent flood. It might prevent the water from entering one’s home. But the streets will still be under water. One word MOVE.

    • And I’m still asking… move entire communities of people to where? But the convo is becoming circular at this point…

    • It is NOT the state’s responsibility to move anyone. NOR is it the state’s responsibility to bail out anyone anytime water enters their home. Perhaps a loan, arranged with some assistance from the government is an alternative. Not a grant. People MUST learn to be responsible. The recurring decimal of floods and government interventions MUST end.

    • Sigh… lol. where would you like people to go? As in call a part of the country that can accommodate an influx of people. Sometimes you have extended families living on the same street or in the same yard, people want to maintain that. There are people who stay where they are because crime deters them from moving elsewhere. You noted that sometimes the land is inherited… what would you like people to do with their inherited land if not live on it? Because surely they can’t sell it to somebody else to live on, right?
      The state puts people in housing in flood prone areas. After it floods you want the state to tell them they’re on their own? You don’t see how that’s screwing poor people over even more?
      But again, we just disagree on whether it is solely irresponsibility that has ppl living in these areas or not.

    • Frankly I don’t care where ppl choose to live; tey cud live under the water for all I care. It’s just that I am saying it is not the state’s responsibility to bail out these people each time it rains. The state is funded by taxpayers, of which I am a member. Like many, we pay 25% salary taxes, 12.5% on everything we purchase… % on gas taxes…to do what?

  36. Backfilling swamplands and getting approaval for residential development with no proper planning.

  37. What legacy, you mean my great grand parents were flooded out and i still want to live there. YOU THINK PEOPLE STUPID.

  38. This is a very myopic view on a very complex problem in Trinidad & Tobago. I completely agree with all you have said, but you have simplified the analysis in ignoring the fact that many people build on legacy lands I.e. Inheritance property. Where do you want them to go if they cannot afford to purchase land in areas where they may be deemed less ignorant?

    That also points to the issue of poverty in another light; persons in our society without legacy land may not be able to afford to live in the “zip codes” which confer sense. Again, what do you want them to do?

    On top of that, you have failed to mention other very critical elements which contribute to flooding in this paradise of ours. Littering is a major source of our problem here in Trinidad and that is not restricted to persons who try to survive daily in less than appealing circumstances. We are ALL a part of that problem, and unless each of us change our mindset about our personal and societal space, we will continue to be mired.

    Lastly, deforestation for quarrying is only one example of environmental destruction that besieges our country and contributes DIRECTLY to flooding; you have alluded to this but not mentioned it in the real sense. Persons may clear lands to squat, but the bigger problem is the large scale clearance of primary forest such as within Matura National Park.

    • You know the problems. THE POLITICIANS KNOW THE PROBLEMS. It is all a big game in T@T. The sad part is that life in T@T has become like playway,

    • I do not squat, am not involved in quarrying and DO NOT LITTER. Your generalization comes across as very offensive, to me at least. If you are into pointing fingers, be more specific.

    • Inzan Mohammed Have you done anything to dissuade people from being involved in any of the above? Then you are a part of the problem too. I’m not saying I’m not part of the problem either eh. These generalizations are reality, whether you like it or not, whether it offends you or not. Is it a solvable problem? No clue; since clearly you, like many Trinis don’t seem to see the role you play or your potential ability to be a part of the solution. Ever heard of the “Adopt A River” initiative? Ever been on a beach clean up? Ever stopped someone from littering and lectured them on its negative consequences? Ever written a letter to the editor so the whole country can be educated on it? List the things you have done too, just like the things you don’t do, before you can say you are not part of the problem. Sharda A Mahabir please send a link to “Adopt A River” here, thanks.

    • Nadeera you make a good argument. But the counter is this: who is responsible for your decision to stay on legacy land that is prone to flooding?
      Does the home owner take responsibility? Or is the State’s responsibility?
      I think if the State puts you a housing scheme down that floods–then that is one thing. I’m not sure how much responsibility the State should take for the choices of an adult though.

    • Lasana Liburd The question you pose is a very compelling one. And I’m not ashamed to say I don’t have an answer. Speaking from a purely personal point of view, I am civic minded enough and financially capable of standing the consequences of living on flood-prone legacy land. But there are many who can’t afford to, nor hold the view that they should be responsible. The question is one of mentality of our people, and it goes back to our colonial past, in my opinion. Poor people in this country are accustomed to the grants and like. Do you think they are not entitled to help from the state? Whether you consider that the problem of flooding is man-made or not (IMHO It is!), does the state have a responsibility to ensure the immediate well-being of flood victims? History says yes. If we as a society expect this, where is the onus to change?

    • Well, at present there are thousands of unoccupied HDC houses. I’d say it makes more sense to push the State into distributing those for people who need them. And I don’t think Gov’t ministers should have any allocation of houses to give to who they want at all. I don’t care if it is even a single house that they give to a friend or supporter. It is wrong.
      Beyond that, this matter of dealing with victims in flood-prone areas is a moral maze so hard to find an absolute right or wrong.
      Is the State doing the right thing by helping citizens in need after they are ravaged by flood? Or is it doing the wrong thing by giving them an incentive to stay put and keep their families in harm’s way?
      I’d break the deadlock by a look at the treasury at present. Help the school children replace damaged books. Arrange clean up crews to help clear out the debris. But that’s the extent of it. We can’t afford to pay for their bad decisions.
      I say encourage them to find their own solution.
      I’m all for an incentive for them to do the “right” thing if possible though. If that means we help those below the poverty line (that we can afford to) to get appropriate housing elsewhere then so be it.

      • Confrontation is unavoidable in this land where ppl start off the dialogue with prejudices and biases towards/against one group or another. I believe it’s called “conflist theory.” There are many people have vested interest in the way things are and benefit from it. This is not always in the open as most deals in this place are done behind closed doors; many in hotel rooms. Those in positions to benefit are not going to sit on their behnids and let anyone disrupt that. If I am a beneficiary to some million dollar contract annualy and you or anyone wants to upset that, it’s much easier to call just a shot.
        I cannot and will not buy the narrative that year in year out ppl experience the same thing and cannot do anything about it. I see too many high end vehiclesont he roads, many above 300,000 to accept that. It’s either: 1) ppl like it so; 2) they have their priorities on back to front; 3) they are just plain jackasses; or 4) any combination.

    • You are absolutely right. This post is a gross over simplification of a complex issue. How many people in this country have a choice about where they live? If there are people abusing the system then that is the fault of state operated mechanisms providing relief to disaster affected systems. This writing conflates all sorts of issues that don’t sit comfortable together. It is shocking ignorant of historical context and tinged with elitism.

    • Not everyone can live in West Moorings. This post cavorts in assumptions and doesn’t make any pretense at meeting the burden of an objective analysis of a long standing problem

    • I have never heard anyone say the same thing when Maraval or Diego Martin floods

    • Paolo, you are suggesting that the author is racist or classist based on a single article. I think that’s a stretch and your critique is clearly done without the context of a look at any of his previous columns.
      It would be like taking one column from Martin Daly or Sunity Maharaj that criticises the current govt and saying: Well, they must be UNC.
      Yes, this column is a simplification. Columns all are to some extent because when you have between 600 to 800 words on a topic, you tend to narrow in on one or two points–sometimes to the expense of other points that are also valid.
      To me, there is zero basis to say the author wants everyone to live in Westmoorings. There are many areas of Trinidad that do not flood and don’t resemble Westmoorings in the slightest–for example, where I live in the Arima.
      It is very valid for you or anyone else to point out the issues many people in flood-prone areas would have in moving house. Then you could balance that with what responsibility the State should or should not have if they chose to stay put.
      And I’m curious to hear more about the historical context you hinted at. Nadeera made some really good points for instance. But Rudy Paul is no elitist and you won’t have to read many of his columns to realise that.

    • Lasana Liburd as to the historical context, when indentureship came to an end and former indentured workers were offered lands, the lands they were given were in the worst areas (many of the flood-affected communities.) Additionally, many of these communities sprang out of agriculture, namely, sugar cultivation. Consequently, most of them will have settled near to where there was work. These lands were bequeathed to generations, many of whom could ill-afford to move to choice lands. Furthermore, nowhere did I say that the author is elitist, I don’t know who he is. I said the post was elitist and bereft of any serious analysis. I offered my opinion on this article, not Paul. Frankly I don’t care who he is. Also, I re-read my comments to be sure. Nowhere did I use the word racist, that was your flawed interpretation of what I said. Additionally, nowhere did I say “the author wants everyone to live in west moorings” I am surprised at you Lasana. I know you have to defend the content of your website, but you have wildly misrepresented my comments.

    • Well, Paolo I might have misrepresented you. Here is what I based my statements on though.
      “Not everyone can live in West Moorings” — I felt that was a suggestion that the author hinted moving to Westmoorings was a possible solution.
      “I have never heard anyone say the same thing when Maraval or Diego Martin floods” — I think the ethnic composition of Barrackpore and Diego Martin/Maraval are very different and when you hear “people from Laventille”, “people from Westmoorings”, “people from Caroni”… It is sometimes a clever way to point to a particular race.
      If you intended neither, then I was wrong.
      I don’t feel the need to defend the story at all, I assure you. Like any other publication, there will be columns/articles/letters that the editor agrees with and some he/she disagrees with. And I haven’t given my own opinion on this yet. The closest I came was my chat with Nadeera higher in this thread.
      Now I think you have a valid point as far as the historical context goes. Just as Nadeera did.
      Maybe Rudy could have mentioned that. Maybe he saw no need to do so as it doesn’t necessarily dismantle his main point.
      His main point is the choice of residence by citizens ought not to come with the guarantee of govt bailout for man-made disasters.
      That is debatable and open to arguments on both sides. I don’t think it is an elitist position though and I don’t think the author’s argument is based on what town the victims are from.

    • Lasana Liburd yeah you made several leaps. I think the post read more like ole talk that considered analysis. In other words he basically assembled a lot of the opinion that is scattered all over Facebook

    • Lasana Liburd Is it possible to hear from the author on these points? I have read some authors’ responses to comments in the past on various articles. I think it would be a good discussion.

    • Well only the author can speak to his inspiration. “Man on the street” was always considered a valid section in any newspaper. I suppose “Man on Facebook” would just be the evolution of that. Lol.
      But do you think governments should be obliged to financially compensate victims in flood-prone areas til thy kingdom come, Paolo?

    • Paolo Kernahan I’m interested in reading up some more on the historical context as mentioned above. What do you recommend? I have looked in the History of the People of Trinidad & Tobago by Eric Williams but as yet I have not come across that type of info in there.

    • Nadeera Supersad I have used several publications to inform my television programmes. But that was quite some time ago so I will try to get my hands on one of them and send you link or some such. But I suppose this is history that is not taught widely and as such many people have erroneously arrived at the conclusion that people have recklessly chosen to live in flood prone areas. It is an issue that came up time and again when I was producing my television shows.

    • Thanks, and you’re right, nothing is simple given our history.

    • I always wonder why the behaviour or decisions of adults is always excused.and the blame laid elsewhere.

      And we make the legacy land comment but ignore that a large percentage of persons on these lands are squatting.

      Some of these areas flood almost every year….

      While there are good arguments for poverty and lack of choice…the onus for where you build your house has to be mostly on you.

    • Paolo and Nadeera, history allows me to be better understand many things including how people came to be living in such areas. Doesn’t necessarily mean we should excuse or condone it.
      There is a historical explanation for domestic violence and corporal punishment too. At some point, we do need to start taking responsibility for our own futures.
      I understand that some people have it harder than others and some people need more help than others. And such help should be provided. But I also think the Govt should think carefully about what behaviour it might be inadvertently encouraging.
      I noticed you haven’t responded to whether people in flood-prone areas deserve financial relief from the Govt indefinitely. Are you avoiding the hard questions?

    • What I believe should take place is that HDC houses should never be available to people of a gross income above 12k and allow the people that struggle to make ends meet.

    • Lasana Liburd nope, not avoiding hard questions, just don’t have whole day to fart around on Facebook. Work to do and so on.

    • Lasana Liburd the short answer to your question is no, not indefinitely. But as I was saying earlier, where is the onus to change? This is a balancing act we have not perfected, since both side (politicians) and the affected stand to gain, and both see the problem in a very short-sighted manner; the affected need help now and the politicians get publicity with no real change being proffered, since they may not be present after 5 years. That’s how it is isn’t it?

    • Lol. Fair enough Paolo. It is an interesting topic though. And I am enjoying the different points of view.

    • Nigel Tyrell P. Reid Well the discussion really did get side-tracked on legacy land. My intention was not to ignore squatting. Squatting poses a different reality, requires a different analysis completely. Squatting is illegal, and therefore there should be no entitlement to redress (in my mind anyway). But squatting is another symptom of poverty. The poor will never refuse help from the state, because squatters are opportunistic by nature. And so the cycle is perpetuated. They do not have the means to help themselves and therefore they will help themselves to what they can. And the state seems willing to give. As Lasana said, WHAT we give is the question.

      Squatting by itself is a complex issue, and I know I haven’t capture d all of it above. Let’s talk about our failed land acquisition policy and squatter regularisation; and the suitability of these to aid in diving these problems

    • Nadeera, in a nutshell. Yes. And that puts the onus on us. Seeing what needs fixing is phase one. Finding plausible solutions to problems is phase two.
      I definitely agree with everything you just said. We have some responsibility to help the affected persons and the politicians to break out of this waltz.

    • If you live in a flood plain expect to be flooded fullstop.

    • Poor enforcement of planning regulations and systemic problems are not easily solved. I live in flood plain because of affordability i expected to be flooded. Relief will come.

    • No land taxes collected means less resources

    • Now, if we look at the money spent every year on such matters. Perhaps the government would save money by relocation. At least in the case of the more at-risk persons.

    • Lasana I completely agree! Now how do we get that done? ?


    • I spoke to Minister Maxie Cuffie last night–at a media function–about the thousands of Gov’t houses that have not been given out.
      He said those have defects that Govt has to fix first for safety reasons and to avoid lawsuits. We have to remain vigilant about that and ensure they do their job.
      Of course I know that “we” is a problem. Lol. If it is everybody’s job then it is nobody’s job. 🙁

    • Lasana Liburd Ain’t that the truth.

    • We live in a small island. Land is a premium asset and our land prices are higher than most regionally. If we arnt byilding on the flat we building on a slope. To me its a matter of how we treat the land. We litter throughout the year,and love to burn during the dry season. Drains and rivers are not cleaned not dredged regularly. So where else will we end up after stroms but in disaster?

  39. The Regional Corporations and the Town and Country Planning Division need to do their jobs. My neighbour has covered the drain behind his house to backfill his yard to construct apartments over the drain and on the road reserve. He has built the structure on to the boundary line and two stories to boot when his deed has a covenant that his lot can only have a single storied structure which must be 8ft 2 ins from the boundary line and 10 ft from the drainage reserve. Two years ago, I reported the matter to both agencies and to date it is all kinds of excuses rather than to bulldoze the structure. Soon the area will flood or the road will be destroyed causing distress to the residents. Just think of endless persons committing similar lawless acts and nothing is being done. The result? Man-made disasters.

  40. i told a man this last night …..he vex…in other countries they move people OUT of such areas

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