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Soggy Christmas for flood victims

Monday, December 18, 2017
Annette Sugramsingh shows her new refrigerator that was destroyed by the floods last October. Inset: Deonarine Ramlal who was affected by the floods last October. Photo by:Rishi Ragoonath

Several families in Woodland, one of the areas worst affected by severe flooding two months ago, will not be celebrating Christmas.

The residents are pleading with the Government to give them an early Christmas gift by fixing their roads, constructing proper drains and, cleaning and dredging the watercourses.

They say no amount of compensation will help them recover from their losses.

When T&T Guardian visited the area only a few houses were adorned with Christmas decorations while several families still had furniture and appliances destroyed in the floods discarded in the front yards.

They said their “spare” money and savings were used to purchase new furniture and appliance and repair their homes.

“It shaping up real bad and is just a few days away,” said resident Annette Sugramsingh.

“We have no Christmas here,” she said.

Sugramsingh and her daughter, who lives to the back of her house, lost furniture, appliances, clothes and other items.

Their homes were also left with extensive infrastructural damage after six days of the flood.

“My daughter has spent thousands of dollars in renting cars to go to work in Arima because her car get damaged in the flood,” she said. Sugramsingh, who also cares for her 82-year-old mother, said the compensation she got could not even buy a decent couch set.

“The Government should dig the road and put proper drains for us and clean the drains because if we get a few heavy showers we will get flood out again,” said Sugramsingh.

Welder/fabricator Stephen Harduar, who lives with his parents, said Christmas was the last thing on their mind.

“Our Christmas not shaping up good. We lost a lot of things and we did not get any compensation,” said Harduar.

He said the main road is in a dilapidated state.

“The main thing is if they could put proper drainage and dredge the river, it will help with the flooding,” he said.

Deonarine Ramlal, 64, who was forced to sleep in a pirogue for six days after his house was swamped by floodwaters, said: “I can’t see Christmas.” Ramlal, who lives with his daughter and son in law, said, “We have no money. We could barely buy food when the day comes.”

Ramlal said: “The river dredge enough here. What we need is for the river to clean. The grass is so thick that you could walk on the grass to cross the river,” said Ramlal. However, it is unlikely that the residents would get their Christmas wish.

Rivers assessed by ODPM

Penal/Debe Regional Corporation Dr Allen Sammy said he was told that the Ministry of Planning and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management visited the area recently, but he has received no word about any plan to start work.

He said the major watercourses and the main road fall under the Ministry of Works Drainage Division and the Ministry of Agriculture.

In any event, he said the corporation does not have the funds to carry out the required scope of works.


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