Some displaced West Dem flood victims in limbo

Workers of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure’s core group washing the yard of the Leonora Cottage Hospital.

Some West Coast of Demerara residents remain uncertain about their next steps in the wake of the recent destruction wrought by spring tides and flooding to their homes.

Currently, the Uitvlugt/ Leonora Community De-velopment Centre is housing residents of Stewartville, who were displaced when unusually high tides flooded their communities on Thursday and Friday.

Uitvlugt and Leonora were also affected by the flooding.

Up to Sunday, there were 40 residents being accommodated at the shelter. Of that number, there are more than a dozen children, ranging from toddlers to teens.

The children have been unable to attend school because their school clothes and supplies were soaked by the floodwaters. However, a representative at the shelter related yesterday that the Region Three education office had sent a teacher over earlier in the day to work along with them.

But the establishment of the shelter is only meant to be a temporary situation. Established by the CDC on Saturday, it was intended that the centre would function in that capacity only until today. An official announcement on whether the life of the shelter will be extended will be made by the regional administration today.

“I gon be on the streets. Wah I gon do? I got family, yeah but I not gonna depend on them to be my rescue or nothing like duh,” Stewartville resident Nicholas Beaton told Stabroek News.

Beaton’s house was one of the three residences in Stewartville destroyed by the floodwaters.

The three have been promised assistance from the government but have not yet received word on what the assistance will amount to.

“The main thing is a roof over we head. I depending on the government for shelter or something, or land self,” said Ceyon Barnes, a labourer. Barnes, whose house was also knocked flat, lived alone with his three-year-old son.

“Minister (Raphael) Trotman was here concerning the people dem that lose dem house and who house wasn’t…but nobody ain coming to talk to us to say well am, y’all house get damage, where y’all damage that we can help y’all with or whatsoever…and that’s bad. We get children. Right now me children dem mattress wet…If they close the shelter –wah meh children dem gon sleep on?” Samantha Albert questioned.

Albert, a mother of four, related that the waves caused her house to fall on to electrical cables, which are the only things holding the structure up.

Another woman related that there were 10 of them living at the residence at Stewartville, and that her family was forced to move to the shelter because of the extent of the damage.

While the CDC has provided cleaning supplies to affected residents, she said she has not yet had the opportunity to clean her house as she has seven grandchildren with her at the shelter and could not leave them behind as their mother was at work.

Others had also indicated that they had not yet started cleaning out their houses.

While only Stewartville residents have made use of the accommodations, residents of Uitvlugt have been traveling to the Centre to collect meals for their families.

According to CDC Major Sean Welcome, 350 households at Ocean View, Uitvlugt, were affected by the flooding.

Uitvlugt resident Sankar Mangra is one such resident who has resorted to collecting food from the shelter because he is still cleaning out his pots and pans. Residents have also been unable to cook because much of their time is spent on cleaning efforts.

More can be done

Meanwhile, the Chair-man of the Tuschen/ Uitvlugt Neigh-bourhood Democratic Council (NDC) has criticised the government’s relief efforts, opining that more can be done to assist the residents.

“We have received some assistance but I don’t think it’s adequate. I think that central government can do more to assist the people them in Ocean View,” Chairman Vishal Ambedkar said yesterday.

When Stabroek News visited the area yesterday, the NDC, along with Member of Parliament Irfaan Ali and regional officers had been meeting with residents to engage them on the situation.

Ambedkar related that the NDC had conducted a house-to-house assessment at Ocean View, Uitvlugt, and had calculated residents’ losses to be in the vicinity of $90 million. However, he noted that the estimates are rising as residents uncover new damage during their cleanups.

The spring tides were forecast to continue up until yesterday, but the last case of overtopping was experienced on Friday afternoon.

Since then, residents have embarked on cleaning out their houses, but many have reported damage to their electrical appliances, wiring, bedding, and clothing.

“Over the past few days there’ve been some complaints from the residents that nobody has been coming around and actually listening to their problems. Yes, they’ve had visits from various ministers and ministries, but on the ground they are not given any sort of assistance,” the Chairman explained.

“A lot of the complaints are in terms of compensation. This entire back street here…a lot of people suffered damage because they were in the path of the waves and they suffered major losses…We’ve received very little assistance here from government. We’ve received cleaning agents, we’ve received a machine to help in our cleanup, but I think more needs to be done,” Ambedkar stated.

The Chairman said that the NDC will be looking to allocate funds to assist in cleaning up the area as well as to possibly assist those who were the worst affected by the flood.

So far, he said, they have begun removing debris from the roadways, using their tractor, along with a machine provided by the regional democratic council.

Ambedkar said that the council is expected to have an extraordinary meeting today to discuss how they will render assistance to the residents.

Stewartville/Cornelia Ida NDC Chairman Jainarine Narine related that he and other councillors had gone around on Friday and Saturday to assess the impacts of the flooding on Seaview, Stewartville and Anna Catherina.

He noted that one of the problems in the area is that persons have constructed on the reserves, making them a flood risk and he opined that these residents would eventually have to be removed. While some areas have been regularised, however, Narine related that Stewartville is not under the control of the NDC.

In terms of minimising the effects of flooding, the Chairman also said that a larger culvert needs to be built at Sea View, Anna Catherina, to facilitate the drainage of a larger volume of water.

Leonora hospital

Over at the Leonora Cottage Hospital, regional officials, hospital staff, as well as staff from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure’s core group, were seen cleaning out the institution.

Power hoses were used to wash the surfaces, which were then scrubbed clean. Administrator of the hospital Kathlene Armstrong said that following that the hospital would be fumigated and that works should be finished by Friday, in anticipation of a Monday re-opening.

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