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MEDIA RELEASE- THE ODPM URGES CITIZENS TO CONTINUE TO PREPARE FOR THE DURATION OF THE WET AND HURRICANE SEASONS

MEDIA RELEASE

Friday 01st July, 2022                                                                                                                      For Immediate Release

THE ODPM URGES CITIZENS TO CONTINUE TO PREPARE

FOR THE DURATION OF THE WET AND HURRICANE SEASONS

In light of the recent passage of the Potential Tropical Storm and subsequent Adverse Weather Alerts from the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (TTMS), the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) commends the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago for their positive steps in preparing for the Wet and Hurricane Seasons. As a nation, we must be grateful that our country was spared the occurrence of any deaths and serious injuries, and the potential severity of widespread destruction, while empathizing with those citizens who suffered damage and losses.

The ODPM has observed that in the main, over the past three (3) years, through the TTMS’ declarations, the Wet Season commenced early, in May, and was marked by the passage of a Tropical Wave or the ITCZ, both bringing volumes of rain. The resultant effects of these Adverse Weather events are increasing hazard impacts during the earlier part of the Wet and Hurricane Seasons. For example, in August 2021, citizens may recall incidents of residential and street flooding particularly in parts of Eastern, Central and Southern Trinidad.

 

Similarly, in 2020, there were many incidents, both in Trinidad and in Tobago, which included residential flooding, many high wind events that caused blown off roofs, fallen trees and utility poles, and collapsed walls, etc., in communities such as Port of Spain and environs, Penal/Debe, Bamboo Village, Caroni, and Kelly Village etc. In Tobago, similar Adverse Weather impacts were experienced in areas including Scarborough, Delaford, Mt. St. George, Patience Hill etc.

 

For these reasons and considering our recent experience, the ODPM urges the members of the national community to continue to bolster their disaster preparedness activities and not to become complacent, now that the Potential Tropical Wave has passed. Not only must we reflect, but especially as we have only begun to navigate the early stages of the 2022 Wet and Hurricane Seasons, we must continue to take the necessary actions to strengthen our resilience against hazards/disasters, to preserve life and property. Recall, that it is always better to be in a state of readiness than become the victim of disaster unpreparedness. 

 

As the strategic disaster coordinating agency in Trinidad and Tobago, the ODPM will continue to do its part to provide citizens with early warning and support the efforts of the Disaster Management Units (DMUs) of the various Municipal Corporations, the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), as well as other first response agencies. In this regard, on Thursday 30th June 2022, this office provided assistance to the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation by deploying a technical team to conduct surveillance in the North-eastern communities of Toco, Matelot, Monte Video and Grand Riviere, all which were impacted by flooding and landslides.

 

During deployment, members of this team employed specialised tablets to capture data that will be used to strengthen situational awareness of impacts and enhance GIS mapping capabilities. This critical function in the long run will aid in hazard modelling, which would assist disaster managers to be proactive and plan actions for areas of potential impacts, resulting in faster response to challenges faced by residents.

 

While the ODPM and its stakeholders continue to work towards reducing disaster risk, we encourage our citizens to remain vigilant and to continue to take the necessary actions to increase your and your community’s resilience. In this regard, to assist persons who may face floods in the future, here are some tips to help you remain safe and become better prepared:

  • Stay out of flood water, unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • Flood water may pose a drowning risk for everyone— regardless of their ability to swim. Swiftly moving shallow water may be deadly, and even shallow standing water may be dangerous for small children.
  • Avoid driving in flooded areas—cars or other vehicles may not protect you from flood waters. You may be swept away or may stall in moving water.
  • If you have to be in or near flood water, wear a life jacket—especially if the water is rising.
  • It is NOT safe to wade through flood water!—But if you must wade  through flood water, ensure that you  use a sturdy stick/pole to measure the depth of  the water in front of you before stepping forward.
  • Floodwater may be very harmful to one’s health; it is often unknown what may be in such waters. Floodwater may contain:
  • Downed power lines
  • Human and livestock waste
  • Household, medical, and industrial hazardous waste (chemical, biological, and radiological)
  • Other contaminants that may lead to illness
  • Physical objects such as lumber, vehicles and debris
  • Wild or stray animals such as rodents and snakes
  • Exposure to contaminated flood water can cause:
  • Wound infections
  • Skin rash
  • Gastrointestinal illness
  • Tetanus
  • Leptospirosis
  • Cholera
  • Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water. Discard any food and beverage that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Food containers that are waterproof include undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans.
  • Food containers that are not waterproof include those with screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped caps. Also, discard juice/milk/baby formula cartons and home-canned foods if they have came into contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitised.

 

  • While the best way to protect yourself is to avoid flood water, however if contact with flood water becomes unavoidable, ensure to:
  • Wash the area with soap and clean water as soon as possible. If you do not have soap or water, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitiser.
  • Take care of wounds and seek medical attention if necessary.
  • Wash clothes contaminated with flood or sewage water in hot water and detergent before reusing them.
  • If you must enter flood water, ensure you wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles. The use of lifejackets is also advised.

 

Persons are advised to be on the lookout and take the following precautions to maintain safety against landslides:

  • Be sure to listen for news bulletins pertaining to landslides during and after adverse weather.
  • Motorists are asked to exercise caution in all affected areas. Adjust usual routes to those which might be less prone to land slippage.
  • When driving through hilly areas, listen and watch for rushing water, mud or unusual sounds.
  • If you live on or near a hillside, inspect your property regularly for any new cracks that appear in walls, tiles and foundation.
  • Plant ground cover and avoid clear cutting trees and vegetation on hilly areas to prevent soil erosion.

Our combined efforts work towards making Trinidad and Tobago disaster resilient.

 

PHOTOS AND CAPTIONS

 

Caption: 1: Ms. Eris Garcia Gonzalez, GIS Technician Assistant, conducting damage assessments in the Matelot Community, using a specialised tablet to capture data.

 

Caption 2: (L) Mrs. Katherine Badloo Doerga, Director of the Drainage Division of the Ministry of Works and Transport, (C) ODPM’s Regional Coordinator, Ms. Shaina Khan and (R) Mr. Kemron Bucchan, Regional Coordinator Assistant discussing post damage assessments in the Matelot community.

To view the full version of the Media Release, please click here.

 

 

 

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END

Issued by:

Public Information, Education and Community Outreach Unit

 


 

 

 


 

 

 

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