After the shock of the floods of April 21, it is time to take stock and take measures to avoid repeating such a tragedy. Some residents and traders are considering relocation, either with state support or on their own.

Calm seems to have returned to Tranquebar and to the streets of the capital. After the shock caused by the floods on Sunday April 21 and the unrest that followed the next day, life seems to have returned to normal. Everyone is still trying to heal their wounds after having washed away all the mud and waste carried by the torrents. However, a pungent smell of mold still lingers here and there. The same goes for water damage. Life will not be the same for some, especially those who have been most severely affected.

Residents and business owners seem resigned to moving forward. But the frustration of having experienced difficult times twice in the same year, just a few months apart, is overwhelming for them. Everyone tries to get back up as best they can and at the same time tries to find solutions to deal with a possible new disaster. The anxiety is always present. “I haven't been able to sleep since Sunday's events,” says Wendy Andoo. The family home, where she lives with her elderly parents, is right next to that of Ramsahye and Dindoyal. One collapsed into the Ruisseau du Pouce and the other could collapse at any time during the next big downpour.

At the Andoo family, this is the worry, because they think that the ground must be unstable. Before the Ramsahye house toppled into the river, their fence wall had collapsed shortly before. This leads them to believe that the foundations of their house have been weakened, especially since they heard cracking on Sunday. “Even then we know we don't risk it, otherwise we don't live in it if we don't know what to do with it,” she explains.

With her elderly parents and her mother having difficulty getting around, Wendy Andoo doesn't want to take any risks. Having no relatives in Mauritius, she does not know where she could go if she had to evacuate the house. And even if the authorities were willing to relocate all the families located near Ruisseau du Pouce, there is no question of having temporary shelter, underlines Wendy Andoo. She makes it clear that it was as a result of unfinished work in Ruisseau du Pouce that these tragic events occurred. “We cannot be held responsible for building on unstable land. Our parents have lived here for over 40 years and nothing happened until the retaining wall was torn down during work in the creek bed,” she said. For Wendy Andoo, it is up to the authorities to find solutions to the problem that all nearby families are experiencing.

Higher up, in the heart of Tranquebar, residents around rue Jules Mallac are waiting for better days. After many years in the neighborhood, they have no other place to live. One of the residents, whose house is located right on the edge of the river that runs through the neighborhood, does not know which way to turn. Aside from the fact that the authorities are building a retaining wall to protect his house, he sees no other solution. Although he is aware that his house is at risk, he is not thinking of leaving the place for the moment, nor are those who live nearby.

The setbacks of traders

In the city center of Port-Louis, it was particularly the traders along La Poudrière, La Chaussée and John Kennedy streets who bore the brunt of the floods. Owner of a small business, Maryline is sorry to have suffered losses during the two floods, January 15 and April 21. She regrets that she no longer has flood insurance on the pretext that her business is located in a risk zone. “The insurance company let us know this year that we wouldn't be covered,” she says. The manager therefore asks the authorities to “find a solution” for them, because they are ready to pay the insurance costs in order to be compensated in the event of a disaster.

For her, there is no question of abandoning her business “while those who are partly responsible for the floods are still there”. Maryline is therefore of the opinion that the authorities should do what is necessary to demolish the buildings and structures which prevent the water from Ruisseau du Pouce and the canal which runs along rue La Poudrière from draining more easily towards the sea. She claims to have suffered net losses during the two floods, but no one seems to want to listen to their complaints, says the trader.

Further away, Reeaz Toorabally, manager of the One O One store, is considering leaving. But in the meantime, he is strengthening measures to prevent water from seeping into his business. “We suffered a lot of material loss in January because the floods took us by surprise. This includes the loss of furniture, but also of products in stock and equipment that allowed the business to operate normally,” he explains.

According to the insurance company's statements, 45 cm of water had entered the store. To minimize the risks of being invaded by water next time, additional barriers will soon be installed to cover any eventuality, he said. If he fails again this time, “it will be outsourcing pure and simple,” he says.

Anita Jamookeeah watched helplessly as images of the floods on Sunday, April 21, streamed across social media and media. When she was able to go to her business on John Kennedy Street the next day, there was consternation. All businesses in the building were affected by at least 30 cm of water. Which damaged all the products and equipment located at ground level. “I'm frustrated that I had to go through this again this year. I have my own business and if this continues, maybe it won't be possible to work here anymore. We will have to find another location because we have lost a lot: products and working days,” she says. “Paying bills at the end of the month will be difficult,” she emphasizes.
So, even if life seems to have returned to normal for some, for others, anxiety, frustration and desolation are still present.

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