Flash floods bring back memories of December 2013
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September 9, 2014

Flash floods bring back memories of December 2013

Clean-up operations are ongoing around the country, after a trough system caused flooding in a number of areas Saturday, bringing back fresh memories of flash flooding last December.

Up to press time yesterday, the total cost of the damage caused by the weekend’s heavy rains was not available, but Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is expected to shed some light on this {{more}} during a press conference to be held later today.

A number of the areas which were affected when an “unforecastable super storm” passed over St Vincent on December 24 and 25, 2013, were once again in harm’s way, when, according to information from the Meteorological Office based at the ET Joshua Airport, more than 99 mm (four inches) of rain fell on St Vincent between 6 a.m. Friday, September 5, and 10 a.m. the following day.

State agencies NEMO (National Emergency Management Organization), BRAGSA (Roads, Bridges and General Services Authority) and other organizations have been occupied with the cleaning and clearing of a number of roads over the past two days, in an exercise which it is believed will continue for at least the remainder of the week and possibly beyond.

Roxanne Millington, communications officer at BRAGSA, told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that minor landslides were reported in La Croix, Vigie Highway at Belmont, Kelbourney, Dorsetshire Hill, Trigger Ridge and Fair Hall.

SEARCHLIGHT caught up with a unit from BRAGSA clearing a blocked road at Belair on Monday, one of the largest obstructions reported, in the vicinity of the All Saints Medical College.

An engineer associated with BRAGSA said approximately 100 feet of road was cut off from traffic, but he was optimistic that the road should be cleared by today, Tuesday.

Millington also confirmed that the road south of the Morne Garu bridge in Spring Village had been undermined, and that the organization would soon begin works on the affected area.

Until then, a release issued by NEMO has warned heavy vehicles not to use that portion of the road until further notice, and advised all other road users to approach and use the area with caution.

NEMO indicated that landslides were also reported at Georgie Gutter, Long Wall, and Miller’s Gate, as well as a number of toppled retaining walls and damaged homes, in Redemption Sharpes, Buccament Bay, Dorsetshire Hill and Largo Heights, causing one person to be hospitalized.

Operations at the ET Joshua Airport were also affected by the rains, causing the facility to be flooded. It was closed for about 10 hours. Members of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force Fire Brigade and volunteers worked on cleaning and clearing the building, which reopened at about 4 p.m. Saturday.

The fire brigade was also seen yesterday, clearing the streets of Kingstown, particularly Bay Street, of dirt and other debris that remained after Saturday’s rains.

The rains also caused some temporary setbacks to two of this country’s utility companies.

The St Vincent Electricity Services (VINLEC), reported that damage was caused to the South Rivers and Cumberland Hydro Power Stations by blockages at the intakes, which put the South Rivers station offline and limited the output at Cumberland.

VINLEC reported that the company has begun mobilizing heavy equipment to move into the area to begin clean-up work. The company is also accessing the Richmond location, which is still non-functional following extensive damage during the December floods.

Service was interrupted for some customers during the passage of the trough system, but according to VINLEC, this was not as a result of the damage at the hydro stations. VINLEC says that the company did not experience any damage at the diesel stations or any other locations on the mainland.

The Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA) reported that things were back to normal as of yesterday, following reports that their Montreal, Majorca, Hermitage and Jennings water systems were affected as a result of the heavy rains and high river flows.

Distribution lines were damaged in several communities around the country, resulting in the loss of water in those areas. CWSA reported that crews had been dispatched to those areas to address the issues.

St Vincent and the Grenadines is still in recovery mode, following the rains and floods last year, which were caused after two low level trough systems merged over St Vincent. Twelve persons were killed, others injured and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage reported.