Residents ofa Linden who were affected by last Tuesday’s violent storm are now calling for the establishment of a disaster relief fund, since they are now left uncertain of how they will repair the damage caused by the storm.
One such resident is 75-year old Leslie Hopkinson of Retrieve, Linden, whose home was severely damaged after the storm uprooted a cashew tree which fell on the two-storey structure while he and his daughter were inside.
According to Hopkinson, who spoke to Stabroek News on Saturday, the house had been one of several “aluminum houses” that were built in Linden and had undergone several renovations since its construction in 1958.
However, the structure is no more, the nearby cashew tree writing off the entire top flat of the house and leaving the family without shelter for possibly the next few weeks.
Reflecting on what had transpired last Tuesday, the elderly man said he was at home with his daughter, Desiree Hopkinson, at their Lot 493 Moraballi Street home, while his wife, Chandra Hopkinson was at a nearby shop making a purchase when the calamity occurred.
“Initially, when the rains and winds started, it had caused a little piece of the zinc in the kitchen area to blow away, so I call for my daughter to help me cover the stove. It was when we were about to cover it that the tree came down and broke a cabinet full with glassware that went everywhere,” Leslie explained.
The impact of the tree hitting the house, coupled with the velocity of the wind knocked both Hopkinson and his daughter down, resulting in them suffering minor injuries.
Having realised what had happened, the man said he got up and rushed to his daughter who had sustained a gash to her head as a result of the impact. It was not until later that Hopkinson realised that he, too, had sustained cuts on his arms and feet too.
Hopkinson further noted that after his daughter was taken to the Linden Hospital complex for treatment, neighbours and friends came out to offer assistance; one neighbour had even offered to accommodate the family while they try to get back on their feet and this is there where they are currently staying.
The road to recovery, however, does not seem to be a sure one, the pensioner said, while noting that thus far all the help he has received came from family and friends.
“No one hasn’t really come to help us you know, we had a councillor who came around to assess the situation and another person from the CDC came the night to check on us but we haven’t really had anyone else…they are sending help to the Guyanese who are affected by the hurricane which is good but what about us right here in Guyana?” Hopkinson asked.
Meanwhile, Fern McCoy, Councillor of Constituency Seven (Blueberry Hill, One Mile North, One Mile Extension and Wismar Housing Scheme) who also spoke to Stabroek News described the storm as one of “worst experiences” as it has left many residents scared of trees falling on their homes.
“Many residents in this area would have suffered damage to their fences (and) are now seeking assistance in removing trees around their homes that would have started to lean as a result of the storm,” she said.
McCoy noted that the council is willing to offer assistance, however they are limited by their financial resources and as such they have decided to use a multifaceted approach with the Mayor and Town Council and Regional Democratic Council to see how best they can assist those who have been affected.
“Myself and some other Councillors would have visited some of the affected areas and we have realised that there is need to look into the establishment of a disaster relief fund for situations like this because when you look at it, we at the level of the council are not in a position to make any big financial contribution but these people need assistance,” she added.
Similar sentiments had been shared by Mayor of Linden, Carwyn Holland last week where he, too, made mention of his intention to seek emergency funding from the government as a means of assisting residents in the community who have suffered as a result of the storm and soil erosion.
He has since told Stabroek News that persons have reportedly moved to seek advances on salaries and requesting loans in order to make immediate repairs, while others continue to be accommodated by neighbours.
Holland also noted that contact with the Civil Defence Commission had been established and that efforts are underway to see how best assistance can be given to those affected.
In the meantime, he said that they have received word from both Gafoor’s and Kissoon’s Furniture Store of their willingness to make a contribution sometime this week.
It was reported last week, that several houses and other buildings, including the Christianburg/Wismar Multilateral School and the Mackenzie Market had suffered damage after a thunderstorm hit Linden on Tuesday afternoon.
According to information supplied by Holland, heavy winds and rain which began just after 3 pm on Tuesday lasted an hour and a half.
This, he said, seemed to have been a follow-up to the rains and winds that had been experienced in the outlying areas of the town for at least three hours during the wee hours of Tuesday.
Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and several other parts of the country have recently been rattled by violent thunderstorms. Residents have been left fearful in the aftermath of shattered houses and torn-off roofs.
In the wake of the storms, renewed questions have been raised about whether there is any information coming from the $550 million Doppler Radar which had been funded by the European Union in 2009. The radar was meant to serve a variety of purposes including providing some notice of the approach of violent weather.