Olympic joy for flood victims
By Lara Pickford-Gordon Friday, August 17 2012
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True Olympic spirit: Olympians Keshorn Walcott, left, Mikel Thomas, second from left, Machel Cedenio, fourth from left, and Roger Daniel, right, distr...
In their moment of distress, gold medallist Keshorn Walcott and three fellow Olympians brought joy to flood affected residents of Diego Martin and Carenage yesterday.
The residents were contacted by their councillors to be at the public swimming pool, Wendy Fitzwilliam Boulevard, Diamond Vale and the recreation ground, Haig Street, Carenage to receive hampers.
Persons began gathering at the Diamond Vale swimming pool from 1pm. An official of the Ministry of Sport had a printed list of names and more were added as residents turned up at the pavilion. Approximately 200 hampers were prepared for distribution.
The sight of police outriders after 2 pm signalled that the motorcade with the athletes, which began in Port-of-Spain and proceeded along Western Main Road to Diego Martin, was near and residents began eagerly looking out. As the sound of music got louder some residents of Diamond Vale came out.
Walcott and fellow Olympians, Machel Cedenio of the bronze medal winning 4×100 metre relay team, Mikel Thomas of the hurdles team and shooter Roger Daniel handed out flags to people and tokens from the Ministry of Sport. Bags with food and toiletries were packed for the athletes to distribute.
Present was Minister in the Ministry of the People and Social Development Vernella Alleyne-Toppin. Walcott was surrounded by a crowd of residents as soon as he entered the compound and graciously signed many autographs. He put on his gold medal, won last Saturday, the day rainfall and floods devastated Diego Martin, and displayed it to the glee of all in attendance.
“We love you, don’t dig no horrors,” a man told Walcott while filming with a camcorder. Many mobile phones came out to capture the moment.
A light drizzle started with the arrival of the sportsmen but the weather soon changed to sweltering conditions. Cedenio, Thomas, Daniel and Walcott all distributed hampers but it was the gold medallist who created the buzz among the crowd. They called out “Keshorn” as if they knew him and he acknowledged the greetings. He brought joy to people and one woman held on to him and hugged him as if she did not want to let go.
The scene played out again in Carenage, as hundreds converged on the recreation ground on Haig Street to get a first-hand view of TT’s latest sporting hero and his Olympic teammates.
There they went about their task dutifully distributing the relief hampers while signing autographs and posing for photographs. Walcott said he was happy he could be of assistance to the residents after they had suffered so much damage.
Those affected by the flood have been traumatised by the loss of their sense of security–through the loss of the roofs over their heads and possessions. The uncertainty and doubts about the future have taken a toll on their mental and physical well-being.
Daniel Webster said it was a trying time. “Things could go from one extreme to the other in the wink of an eye. My place is in shambles.” He was tired and said he needed to relax.
Farmer Wesley Hassanali of Richplain Road had 30 chickens which he was going to sell and earn money. He lost them all as well as his goat and sheep. “It real hard. I feeling real distressed I don’t know where to turn.”
Lisa Edwards said she was not feeling well yesterday. Since the flood, her blood pressure was high and she recently began experiencing chest pains. “I thought I was going to die,” she reported. Her apartment on the Diego Martin Main Road was flooded and she lost her bed, refrigerator, washing machine, dining room set and television.
At the Diego Martin Central Community Centre, persons were providing their names to personnel from the Ministry of the People at the Strategic Social Impact Centre in order to obtain assistance.
Jennifer Rosales of Ravine Road, Petit Valley, said she was feeling “lost” since she and eight other family members had to abandon their home and relocate to Oropune Gardens, Piarco.
Richard Mahabir said, “It’s crazy. The loss is just the loss but every time rain falls we start to panic a little bit. We still get up in the middle of the night. When we see water, we start jumping.”
Four feet of water and mud entered his rental home. Mahabir his wife and two year-old son are staying at his mother’s home in Arima. Michael Farah, of Benjamin Street, Petit Valley sustained damage but said there were people worse off than him. “I have health, the family have health. We will deal with the rest.”