What is a flood? 

A flood is an accumulation or an overflow of an expanse of water that covers or inundates dry land.

Floods continue to be one of the most destructive natural disasters in terms of loss to citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, and the wider Caribbean Region. Floods can happen anywhere, at any time. Major floods in Trinidad and Tobago are almost always as a result of severe weather and thunderstorms. 

Types of flood

Riverine flooding.

This usually occurs when a river overflows its banks. It is usually due to the volume of water within a body of water, such as a river or lake, exceeding its capacity and overflowing its banks. It can also occur when the velocity of the river is so high that it flows right out of the river channel, usually at bends.                    

Coastal flooding. 

The sea can overflow or overtop flood defences such as sea walls, perhaps due to a heavy storm (storm surge), a high tide, a tsunami or a combination thereof. 

Flash flooding.

 Flash floods are caused by heavy rain or the sudden release of water over a short period of time. This is a flood that rises and falls rapidly with little or no advance warning. Flash floods usually result from intense rainfall over a relatively small area, within a short amount of time.

Street flooding.

This flood occurs when rain accumulates faster than storm sewers, and drain ditches can carry it away. 

Urban flooding

This occurs as a result of land development. Permeable soil layers are being replaced by impermeable paved surfaces, through which water cannot infiltrate. This leads to greater runoff being generated, which can make rivers out of roadways and ponds out of car parks.

Impacts of flooding

  • Power outages
  • Economic impacts
  • Casualties
  • Health issues
  • Loss of livestock and agricultural crops
  • Damage to property and infrastructure

Reducing flooding and flood damages can be accomplished in the following ways:

Public education initiatives would increase the population’s awareness of the hazard and what they can do to mitigate against it. Such initiatives would make people better aware of the risks that they face, especially those that live in high risk areas.

Create proper land use and pollution policies and enforce these policies. Policies that would encourage sustainable development should be created since this would reduce the amount of deforestation that takes place as well as illegal quarrying.

Relocate individuals who live in high risk areas. Sometimes public education is too late and the best option to protect the lives of some individuals is to relocate them to safer areas.

Dredge rivers and waterways regularly to remove the excess build up of silt and soil sediments.

Build proper drainage systems. Ensure that there is proper drainage or expand on existing drainage systems whenever there’s new settlements or structures being constructed.

Before, After and During a Flood 


What to Do Before a Flood 


What to do during a Flood


What to Do After a Flood


●        Develop a Family Emergency Plan.●        Stay calm. Listen to the radio or television for updated information. ●        Exercise extreme caution when entering buildings as there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations. 
●        Pack a ‘Grab and Go’ bag to last at least 72 hours in the event you and your family need to evacuate.●        Move to upper levels of buildings or houses if the lower levels are threatened by flood waters.●        Gas and fuel pipes may have been damaged. Use flash-lights instead of open flames to investigate buildings. 
●        Charge all mobile devices.●        Practise electrical safety, turn off utilities such as electricity, gas and water at the main switches. Do not touch electrical equipment,     if you are standing in water or are wet. ●        Report broken utility lines to the public utility company (T&TEC, WASA or TSTT) 
●        Clear all drains, gutters and downpipes. ●        Do not drive through flood waters. If flood waters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground once it is safe to do so. ●        After heavy rainfall, stay inside until water levels have subsided, and it is safe to venture outside. 
●        Make sure all family members know what immediate actions to take to ensure their personal safety. Preparing a Family Evacuation Plan can assist in this regard. ●        Do not seek shelter under culverts or bridges. ●        Do not touch live electrical equipment in wet areas.
●        Collect and Protect- Secure all important documents such as birth certificates, passports and the like in water proof bags or sealed containers. ●        Advise children never to play in flood waters. ●        If injured, seek medical assistance at the nearest hospital, health centre or first aid station.
●        Elevate appliances and valuables. ●        Do not walk through flood waters unless it is absolutely necessary. Be careful of hidden objects and broken glass when walking in water. If you have to walk in flood water, walk where the water is not moving and use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you. ●        Do not consume food that has come into contact with flood waters. 
●        Park vehicles on higher ground or places without a history of flooding. ●        Be cautious when walking/driving along hillsides or landslide-prone areas.●        Boil drinking water for at least 10-15 minutes before drinking or treat with sterilisation tablets where available. 
●        Protect your pets or livestock. ●        Stay away from drains and culverts. Swiftly moving shallow water can be deadly, and even shallow standing water can be dangerous for small children.●        Bury all dead animals as soon as possible. 
 ●        Avoid areas subject to sudden flooding. ●        Clear all debris from drains and channels near your home as soon as it is safe to do so. 
 ●        Stay indoors- Do not go into flood waters.●        Contact your Municipal Corporation or the Tobago Emergency Management 
 ●        Move to upper levels of buildings or houses if the lower levels are threatened by flood waters.●         Agency (TEMA) through its toll-free hotline numbers if impacted and in need of assistance (see attached).
 ●        Do not attempt to cross rivers or flowing streams. ●         Pay attention to regular updates on television, radio and social media for any changes in the weather conditions.
 ●        Be Aware of water-covered roads & bridges. 
 ●        Do not go swimming or boating in swollen rivers. 

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