In Trinidad and Tobago, when it rains it doesn't just pour; it floods.
From the water-filled streets of downtown Port of Spain to the muddied rivers across country, flooding is a perennial consequence of rain.
Flooding has cost governments millions of dollars in compensation, cost insurance companies millions in claims, led to loss of life and property and caused unquantifiable distress to thousands of people over the years.
Last weekend, the northwest area, in particular Diego Martin, was declared a "disaster area" by Prime Minister Kamla-Persad Bissessar.
The heavy rains and consequent flooding, in which two people died, were attributed to an active Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) which caused rainfall that measured four inches in just two hours.
The rainfall caused massive flooding in Glencoe, Carenage, La Seiva, Santa Cruz and in La Puerta and Richplain in Diego Martin.
If flooding is inevitable, why is there no preparation for it?
That's the question uppermost in the mind of president of the Trinidad and Tobago Contractors' Association (TTCA) Mervyn Chin.
He said at the moment, the People's Partnership Government is fixing the consequences of the problem and not the cause of the problem.
While the government has defended its handling of the "disaster" over the past week, it came in for serious criticism from Chin who suggested that Government engineers who failed to properly advise should be fired.
Chin pointed out that the government has employed people to deal with this problem.
"Somebody is being paid to do a job but they are clearly sleeping on it. It is evident that they are not doing their job. And if they aren't you need to get the right people to do it," he said.
"There would be a price to pay if this happened in the private sector," Chin told the Business Express last week.
He said the damage could have been mitigated had the government been more proactive in its appoach to dealing with the flooding problem.
He noted that the November 2011 rainfall, in which similar areas were affected by floods, should have given the government an ideal perspective on the magnitude of the problem.
Chin noted that Government had been in receipt of a report by engineers headed by Shyankaran Lalla, which dealt with the issues in the Diego Martin area.
Chin, who was part of a team reviewing the flooding at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) last week, said there are several factors to consider in dealing with the issue.
He said while the technocrats at the Ministry of Planning were being blamed for improper planning in the Diego Martin area, they defended themselves in last week's meeting, explaining that politics had entered into the controlled development, with ministerial approval superceeding proper planning.
He said another reason was ignorance on the part of some developers and dwellers. But that problem, explained Chin, was compounded by the lack of inspection from Ministry officials.
Chin said a look at pictures from the disaster were very telling – there were trees and concrete slabs which filled the waterways.
"The composition of the debris tells a lot. If public officials were properly monitoring, they would have been able to deal with this," he explained.
He said dredging works should have been maintained and continued in the dry season in prepartion for the rainy season.
Chin's frustration is that there were answers available.
"Here's an analogy. There's a cold. Here's the medicine to fix it. But the government just did not take the medicine. It may not have been a perfect plan but it was a plan which they could have worked with," he said.
"A lot of innocent folks now have their lives disrupted and they have to spend lots of money to fix it and at the end of the day there is no interim measure in place when the rains fall again. So if that happen, crapaud smoke your pipe."
Chin said the country was more exposed now than it was last year but there were no answers forthcoming on what measures were in place to circumvent such a disaster.
He said answers were needed on why the report was not implemented and furthermore, if it was not implemented, how long would it be before it would be implemented.
"Basically, flooding in this country is a recurring decimal," he said.
Last Saturday, ODPM's chief executive Dr Stephen Ramroop said a disaster area was declared "anytime the impact overwhelms the capacity of the local area to deal with it and outside resources have to be called in".
Dr Ramroop explained that the Diego Martin area was particularly vulnerable, having already experienced similar floods late last year.
"This area will always be impacted because there is a higher density of population and more infrastructure," he'd said.
"You may see more in the future because we forecast that all over the world, there is activity like this that is going on. You saw it in England and you saw it in Russia—high intensity rain with five inches of rainfall, which you have never seen in over 34 years," he added.
After the Diego disaster, Ramroop said the country will stand a better chance of being prepared for a hurricane because there's usually ample warning.
"I am very happy today because what I saw today was a much better integration of services, which we have tried to get since the Summit (Fifth Summit of the Americas in 2009) and CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2009). Once we have that level of commitment, we'll be able to evacuate immediately," he had said.
Meanwhile, the Association of Trinidad and Tobago Insurance Companies (ATTIC) maintained last week it was still too early to estimate the scale of losses in Diego Martin and environs after devastating floods two Saturdays ago, even after a preliminary estimate by chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation Allan Sammy of $109 million.
The group said it expects compensation to "equal or exceed" those from last year, particularly for motor vehicles.