“Hurt” was the only word Stephon Wells could use to describe how he felt watching his Toyota Corolla wagon being fished out of the St Ann’s River yesterday.
Wells’ vehicle and another were swept away by raging floodwaters into the river on Tuesday.
“I was working at home and the vehicle was parked when the rain came down and, in a few minutes, they say the river went down with the car,” Wells told Guardian Media yesterday, as he stared gloomily at his mangled wagon on top of a truck crane.
The two vehicles were pinned together under a ledge. The extraction required equipment from the Ministry of Works and Transport. It took almost two hours to lift both vehicles out of the river, while scores of residents, San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation officials, Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan and Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kazim Hosein looked on.
“You work hard for many years to get something and it get destroyed in a few minutes. I is a person who used to take good care of my vehicle and I never got in an accident,” Wells lamented.
He said he bought the vehicle four years ago. While he is distraught over what happened, Wells said he was grateful no lives were lost and no important documents, other than the vehicle’s registration and insurance documents, were in at the time.
Several homes and one bridge in the St Ann’s area sustained damage during the flooding, but corporation chairman Anthony Roberts could not confirm how many exactly.
He told Guardian Media the corporation and CEPEP workers had been out for hours cleaning up the area and carrying out assessments following Tuesday’s flooding.
“The resources would never be sufficient but we have learned to make do with what we have,” he stated.
Roberts said, luckily, it was only one municipality that was affected. He said it was the most devastating flooding he had ever witnessed.
Meanwhile, commuters were yesterday able to move smoothly in and around South Quay in Port-of-Spain, which was also flooded on Tuesday after just 45 minutes of rain.
Minister Hosein told Guardian Media that it took close to 24 hours for crews to have the area completely cleaned. He said resources had to be pulled from unaffected regional corporations from as far as Sangre Grande and Point Fortin to get the job done swiftly.
Hosein said the floods could not have been prevented.
“All watercourses were cleaned but still you could not have stopped that heavy amount of rainfall,” Hosein said.
In fact, he noted that the flood would have been more disastrous if the flood pump system at South Quay was not working.
Hosein, accompanied by Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds, Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez and Member of Parliament for Port-of-Spain South Keith Scotland, toured South Quay yesterday morning while cleanup efforts continued.
Hosein also indicated that residents of East Port-of-Spain and St Ann’s took the initiative and began cleaning up their surrounding areas, which cleared the egress and made it easier and more accessible for the backhoes, water trucks, open tray trucks and other equipment to easily pass through.