A. Situation analysis
Description of the disaster
On Tuesday, 16 October 2018, the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Office (TTMS) issued an Adverse Weather Alert (Yellow Level) that predicted showers and thunderstorms due to the presence of an Inter-Tropical Convergent Zone (ITCZ); the warning was in place from Wednesday, 17 to Friday to 19 October. On Thursday, 18 October, the TTMS upgraded the alert to Orange Level, as the ITCZ continued to produce intermittent periods of rainfall and thunderstorms. Late Thursday, 18 October, the TTMS issued a Riverine Flood Alert (Red Level), as river levels exceeded threshold levels and some of them overflowed their banks. Since additional rainfall was forecasted, river levels were expected to remain elevated for the next several days.
On Friday, 19 October, the Piarco International Airport was closed for several hours, as the weather made it impossible for aircraft to land, and the surrounding roadways were flooded. That same day, the ODPM issued Public Advisory #8 at 2031 hours, which alerted the TTRCS Disaster Management system of an ongoing life-threatening operation in the Greenvale Park community of La Horquetta, where residents were stranded on their roofs due to the rapid onset of floodwaters.
On Saturday, 20 October a national newspaper described the floods as ‘catastrophic’ (Trinidad Express 20 Oct. 2018), and the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) advised that the main north-south highway was impassable; nevertheless, the country’s president has not issued an official national disaster declaration in accordance with the Disaster Measures Act. The persistent rainfall has caused flooding in approximately 80 per cent of the country, primarily the north, east and central parts of the island nation such as Sangre Grande, Matelot, La Horquetta, St. Helena, Caroni and Mayaro. There are reports from ODPM and CDEMA’s Situation Report #1 that the flooding has impacted 100,000 to 150,000 people. Additionally, official reports from ODPM and CDEMA indicate that 800 people sought shelter in collective centres during th the peak of the emergency; however, the colletive centre population is decreasing as affected people return home to begin the cleanup process.
Summary of the current response
Overview of Host National Society
On 19 October 2018, the TTRCS mobilized an 11-member team of responders, which included shelter management, psychosocial support (PSS), medical and coordination specialists, to conduct an initial assessment and provide medical support in the event of injuries during any rescue operations. Upon their arrival in the community of La Horquetta, the team had to transition from assessment to response mode because rescued residents were being housed at a multipurpose sporting complex and a primary school approximately one mile from the impacted zone. The deployed TTRCS personnel engaged in shelter support to ensure that proper emergency shelter procedures were implemented, such as the registration of residents, dormitory management and that the affected population’s psychosocial needs were met; the situation was exacerbated by the many children who had become separated from their parents due to the emergency.
The TTRCS’s medical team and the two ambulances it had at its disposal supported the National Society’s rescue operations through the transportation of injured people to health facilities and the evacuation of persons with special needs; the team also conducted a rapid medical evaluation of the rescued people, as these people had been stranded for several hours and partially submerged in floodwaters during that time in many cases.
The TTRCS also addressed the basic needs of the residents who had been marooned outside the flooded community and waited for up to eighteen hours to return to their community through the provision of blankets and water.
Thus far, the TTRCS has deployed the following resources to support the emergency operation:
• 2 ambulances
• 3 support vehicles
• Over 40 volunteers (trained in PSS, shelter management, emergency medical response and first aid)
• In the affected areas, the TTRCS is assisting with the management of one large emergency evacuation centre, which had 77 residents as of 23 October 2018
• The provision of ambulance service to the collective centres and the affected communities
• Support on evacuations and the rescue of affected people
• Provision of PSS to affected community members
• Coordinating the collection and delivery of relief supplies
The TTRCS will conduct detailed damage assessments as flood waters recede; the National Society is currently conducting rapid community level assessments, and it has already assessed the following villages: Kelly Village, Saint Helena, Madras Road, Cumuto, Sangre Grande, Valencia, Rio Claro, Mayaro, La Horquetta Greenvale