January 12, 2007
Blame it on poor drainage system

Inadequate drainage is the culprit responsible for what appears to be annual Christmas flooding, according to a government-funded study.

The most recent was last December 20 when an early morning downpour from a weak, meteorologically-insignificant weather system dumped close to three inches of rain on the country snarling traffic, shutting down the E.T. Joshua Airport, and leaving a muddy mess behind.{{more}}

The Flood Hazard Study, conducted by the Barbados-based, DLN Consultancy, has identified a drainage system which cannot handle the deluge in places such as Kingstown, Arnos Vale, Calliaqua, and Buccament and has recommended a $10 million

remedy which should take three to five years to cure the ailment.

The study has been in the hands of the Cabinet for about a year now and Chairman of Cabinet, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, told SEARCHLIGHT that he could not say when the review would be completed neither could he definitively say what would be the cost but he did say that he anticipated it would be much more than $10 million.

Howie Prince, Director of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) was aware of the content of the study but said he could give no details as it was before Cabinet.

Inadequate drainage or not, Prince was unhappy with the Barbados Meteorological Service for not giving early enough warning about the system that affected the island five days before Christmas. Prince complained that the Barbados Meteorological Service, which is responsible for weather forecasting for St Vincent and the Grenadines, left this country in the dark about the impending system.

Director of the Barbados Meteorological Office, Chester Layne, dismissed the accusation saying that the St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Meterology Services was notified the night before of the approaching weak surface trough (an elongated area of low pressure).

“The analysis was given on the information we received and the truth is that it wasn’t a really significant system,” he told SEARCHLIGHT.

Layne said that troughs do bring rain and the rainfall which came with this one was significant but the underlying problem was that the island was flood-prone and that worsened the impact.