(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) — More than 800 people who attended the 150th Anniversary National Presbyterian Convention 2018 at the Centre of Excellence in Macoya were stranded at the hall on Saturday night.
Many, among them elderly and children, were from south Trinidad.
They used the padded chairs as makeshift beds, singing hymns and comforting one another until daybreak Sunday.
Atround 6 a.m Sunday in a convoy of vehicles along the Churchill Roosevelt and Uriah Butler Highways, the stranded began making their way to their respective homes.
Among them were pastors and congregation members who had represented various pastoral regions from and had arrived at the hall for the 8.30 am. Saturday start of the convention – hours before the flood waters rose and cut off every access route from north to south Trinidad.
While the hall and surrounding areas were not flooded, the attendees were unable to return to their homes on Saturday evening as all access routes to south Trinidad were cut off.
Flood waters crossed the south-bound lane of the Uriah Butler Highway, and motorists were advised against using it as the rapid flow of the water overpowered light vehicles and maxi taxis which brought many to the convention.
Access routes through Kelly Village, St Helena and Caroni Village which were deemed disaster zones were impassable, as Coast Guard officers were called out to those areas to rescue those residents marooned there.
There was no way out either through the east and south-east as parts of Sangre Grande, Manzanilla and Mayaro were cut off from the rest of the country except via heavy vehicles.
Posts on the Presbyterian Church’s Facebook page indicated that food and medical supplies were distributed to the attendees, many of whom were elderly.
One post read: “Most grateful to those churches/ families in the Macoya area who have been providing hot meals, water, etc to those persons at the Centre of Excellence. I’ve been in contact with (name called) Youth Coordinator who stated that everyone is being taken care of including those in need of medication”.
Another attendee who posted a live video at 5.30 p.m. said: “We are waiting for flood waters to subside. There are people from pastoral regions of Marabella/ Bonne Aventure, Couva, Claxton Bay, Point Fortin, Siparia, Penal, Susamachar (in San Fernando)..a lot of people. We are just waiting for the good news that we can all leave to go home”.
Many of the stranded were in high praise for the hospitality and quick response for meals and medication by the PCTT.
Several people also posted on the site that they were headed to the convention but they turned back by authorities as the flood waters rose.
The Express was told that by midnight, SUVs and trucks were allowed to use the south-bound lane, but motorists spent hours in traffic until Sunday.
By 7.30 am messages were sent to the site that people had travelled safely down the highway and were returning to their homes.