Trinidad closed public schools on Thursday in the aftermath of heavier than usual rains on Tuesday and Wednesday from a tropical wave near the federation with Tobago amid fears that swollen rivers and lingering unstable weather could contribute to even more flooding.
The move by Minister of Education, Nyan Gadsby-Dolly just after daybreak on Thursday followed a weather service warning about unstable weather in Trinidad and the southern Caribbean linked to the annual hurricane season that is now at its peak period.
Heavy rains which battered the twin-island state at midweek have caused severe flooding at schools, state buildings, hospitals, private homes and a slew of other entities. Police reported one death, that of a 44-year-old farmer who disappeared in rushing waters in rural Trinidad on Wednesday.
Police also say there is little hope of finding Theresa Lynch alive after her brother, William Ramlogan, was forced to let go of her hands after she had slipped while they were attempting to cross a flooded ravine. He remains hospitalized with injuries to his body.
The education ministry, meanwhile, reported flooding at dozens of schools mostly outside of the capital. The University of the West Indies also reported disruption to its physical situation, saying that it will switch to Zoom classes for the remainder of the week. The ministry says schools will reopen after sanitation and general cleaning.
The weather offices in Trinidad, Suriname, Guyana and Barbados had been persistently warning residents about Tropical Wave Invest-91. The wave dumped heavy rains that battered East and Central Trinidad causing severe damage to structure, vehicles and other pieces of infrastructure.
The heavy rains had continued overnight Wednesday, causing some already clogged up rivers and drains to overflow their banks even as the system is now west of Trinidad but still capable of dumping tons of rain on the island. Nearby sister isle, Tobago, was also not spared from the flooding and gusty winds and fallen trees blocking roads in several areas. Like in Trinidad, land and mudslides disrupted normal access to homes and state buildings. In some areas in Trinidad, the housing corporation distributed sandbags and other relief items to affected residents.
“We have placed and turned on pumps in strategic locations. These are being used to push excess water out. Our disaster management team has been on the ground, monitoring our most high-risk communities. Unfortunately, in some areas, the volume of water has risen faster than predicted. For those areas, the HDC will continue to monitor and provide assistance to residents as is needed,” the agency said.
In the case of Guyana, Suriname and Barbados, these were all spared any major effects from the tropical wave even as experts are monitoring the skies between the region and West Africa for any systems heading to the Caribbean and Northern South America.