ODPM: We did not spread "fake news" on flooding of highway

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management is seeking to clarify information regarding the rising water in the Caroni River related to the Uriah Butler Highway.

The ODPM says that at no time did it intentionally seek to spread misleading information.

The following is a statement by the ODPM:

"The ODPM does understand your frustration of what appears to be conflicting and delayed information, but persons must understand that confirmed information received from persons on the field reported that the Caroni Savannah Road was not underwater or impassable and water levels were low allowing vehicles to pass unaffected.

Similarly, water was visibly high and on the verge of reaching the shoulder of the Uriah Butler Highway and again vehicles were not being impacted. Additionally, motorists at this time were not being diverted.

At this time water levels were being monitored and reported as receding, by the relevant agency.  However, the activated ITCZ bringing long periods of heavy rainfall caused water levels to increase severely, causing the acceleration (merging) lane to be blocked. Persons should note that the result of forecasted events can be intensified or reduced based on the rapid changes in environmental conditions e.g. intensity of rainfall, wind experienced etc.

From the time of the initial post at 12:48pm, a substantial amount of heavy rainfall made the following post at 1:33 pm of pictures necessary, to show from a confirmed source that water levels were rising considerably. The ODPM provided confirmed and reliable information as the situation progressed. We try to promote a number of protocols which will protect life and property, including shelter in place practices if the southbound highway lanes became impassable. The ODPM also provides information to make persons aware of potential hazards and encourages safety, vigilance and the avoidance of promoting unsafe acts of moving into or around hazardous areas, until agencies on the ground provides an all clear.

The ODPM in no way meant for the information captured for citizens to be “fakenews”, we are just mindful of the impacts of information which is not exacting reaching persons who may panic, causing more danger to other citizens. The ODPM relies heavily on all media to get information to citizens in a timely manner. We are thankful and commend the media for their responsible dissemination of all advisories and information bulletins thus far. The ODPM will remain committed to sharing validated, trusted and precise information with the public for dissemination. Thank you for all the comments and valuable feedback thus far."