Glenn promises relief for Diego flood victims
By COREY CONNELLY Sunday, September 15 2013
click on pic to zoom in
Christopher Yates shares the story of the damage to his home by the floods....
Praise and outrage likewise were the order of the day when Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh visited Mason Street, Diego Martin, yesterday following Thursday night’s flooding crisis in the community.
Even as Ramadharsingh was chastised for Government’s poor response to the flooding, other residents praised him for taking the time to listen to the cries for assistance. At one point, a resident also planted a kiss on the cheek of the minister, who seemed overwhelmed by the severity of the damage caused by the flood waters.
“Nobody in authority come and see what is happening since the floods. We don’t even know what our MP (Diego Martin Central MP Dr Amery Browne) looks like,” said one resident.
Various residents, who had blocked the street in protest early yesterday, complained that they had not received assistance from the relevant authorities since flood waters wreaked havoc in the area. Ramadharsigh, who later paid an impromptu visit to the flood-stricken area, was greeted by mounds of soaked mattresses and debris, destroyed appliances and bitter residents on Mason Street.
One male resident, Christopher Yates, said he was at his wits end and simply did not know where to turn.
Sitting on a shelf of a broken space saver in front of his home, Yates said he has been forced to sleep on the cold concrete while his wife, Odine Bartholomew and two children had to resort to a wet mattress for some kind of comfort.
“We had to take back up the wet mattress for them to sleep,” he said, adding that most of his appliances were also destroyed in the flood waters. “I am still paying Courts for all of these things.”
Yates blamed the authorities for the situation, saying they had spoken repeatedly about the need to dredge the Diego Martin River which has long threatened many homes in the residential area.
“There are trees growing out of the bottom of the river and nobody has been doing anything about it in the dry season,” he said.
“It’s only when we decide to protest that things does start to happen. But you think we want to do that?” he continued. Yates, who works at Mileage Mark on Mucurapo Road, said he could not even get a glass of cold water since his refrigerator was also destroyed in the flood waters.
Other residents also complained about the need for the authorities to “do something” about the Diego Martin River.
“They need to build some kind of retaining wall,” one young man, a father of five, suggested.
He said he had lost everything in the floods. Ramadharsingh, who was accompanied by field officers from his ministry, took note of the residents’ grievances and promised assistance by way of housing grants and, in some instances, food cards.
Earlier, Chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation, Dr Anthony Sammy, said the corporation was doing all in its power to assist residents affected by the flooding.
“We wish to assure residents that over the next few days, the various Disaster Response, Recovery and Rehabilitation agencies will continue to work assiduously until all affected areas are cleaned and access restored to homes, communities, roadways and main access routes. Given the extent of damage, these cleaning and restoration works will continue over the next few days,” he said at a news conference at the Transport Yard of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation, North Post Road.
As of yesterday, Sammy said some 105 residents in the area had been affected by the floods. He said assessments had been carried out at Jean Avenue, Evergreen Drive, Tomato Trace, Sea Trace and Bagatelle.
Sammy advised affected residents to not dispose of their damaged furniture and appliances so that claims could be effectively processed.
Acknowledging that some residents were building homes indiscriminately, Sammy also called for the establishment of a comprehensive drainage master plan for Diego Martin.
He said by the second week in October, three Venezuelan-based engineers were expected to visit the area to assess the drainage system.
“They are coming here free of charge. All they will need is accomodation, food and transport. I will then send a draft to the minister (Local Government Minister Marlene Coudray),” Sammy said
Clean-up crews, including corporation and Cepep workers, were yesterday spotted in several parts of Diego Martin, washing away debris and slush from roadways.