Flood-stricken Mayaro starved of help

As res­i­dents of Mafek­ing Vil­lage, Ma­yaro be­gan clear­ing their homes af­ter six days of floods, Rio Claro/Ma­yaro Re­gion­al Cor­po­ra­tion (RCM­RC) chair­man Glen Ram said the Gov­ern­ment had not done any­thing to as­sist the trau­ma­tised com­mu­ni­ty.

Al­though re­lief and res­cue ef­forts be­gan since Fri­day af­ter heavy rains bat­tered the com­mu­ni­ty, which is home to the mighty Or­toire Riv­er, Ram said the re­cov­ery was be­ing done by reg­u­lar cit­i­zens. He said the cor­po­ra­tion would have liked to do more but fund­ing for dis­as­ter man­age­ment was in­suf­fi­cient.In a tele­phone in­ter­view yes­ter­day, Ram said re­lief sup­plies were be­ing dis­trib­uted to the Cedar Grove com­mu­ni­ty. The area was in­ac­ces­si­ble un­til Tues­day as it was flood­ed by the swollen riv­er. There were flood wa­ter depths be­tween 8 to 10 feet and the cur­rent from the gush­ing riv­er made it dan­ger­ous for re­lief to get in­to the com­mu­ni­ty dur­ing the peak pe­ri­ods of the flood­ing, he said.

"Up to this day, the ODPM has giv­en noth­ing. They had giv­en some wa­ter and some kind of pack with one or two lit­tle items, that is all, but to say any­thing, we have not re­ceived any­thing," Ram claimed.

“Noth­ing from the Gov­ern­ment. I am telling you that every­thing that has been sent to us is from reg­u­lar and cor­po­rate cit­i­zens. To­day and to­mor­row, we have Ram­co and some oth­er peo­ple com­ing in to bring re­lief to the peo­ple of this re­gion. On Sun­day, the Princes Town Ro­tary Club will be com­ing up to bring hot food and med­ical sup­plies to the area.

"We had ham­pers, meals on wheels, Good Samar­i­tans from Rio Claro cook­ing food to send out and peo­ple with cloth­ing stores in Rio Claro dis­trib­ut­ing clothes to us so that we can give to peo­ple who need it.

“Every­thing we are re­ceiv­ing is from donors and peo­ple who are well-wish­ers. We have got­ten noth­ing from the Gov­ern­ment. Rio Claro/Ma­yaro res­i­dents are tak­ing care of them­selves.”He said the res­i­dents of Cedar Grove were an­gry that sup­plies were not brought to them over the past days, as they were in dire need of food, wa­ter and med­ical sup­plies. He said a few more days with­out sup­plies and on­ly God would have known the fate of the res­i­dents.

He said al­though Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Clarence Ramb­harat said the army was there as­sist­ing res­i­dents, that was on Sun­day, two days lat­er, but did lit­tle to help. He said when the army re­turned on Tues­day the wa­ter had al­ready sub­sided enough for trucks to get in­to the area.

Wary that the rainy sea­son could bring more floods, he called on the Min­istry of Works to clear sev­er­al wa­ter­cours­es that should have been de­silt­ed dur­ing the dry sea­son.

“At the co­or­di­nat­ing meet­ing of the coun­cil, where you have the Min­istry of Works and Trans­port’s Drainage Di­vi­sion, there are a lot of ar­eas that need wa­ter cours­es cleaned. We have been say­ing it at the meet­ing; you can check our min­utes. They are say­ing that they don’t have fund­ing. Lit­tle work was done and in those ar­eas, but we were able to mit­i­gate a bit. We need those ar­eas to be cleared, we need our wa­ter chan­nels to be cleared out,” Ram said.

"At the cor­po­ra­tion lev­els, we will try to get some more sand­bags to as­sist peo­ple be­cause there is on­ly so much we can do. At this time, should we get rain­fall again there will be more floods. We would nor­mal­ly like this work to be done dur­ing the dry sea­son, so that in times like these at least we can mit­i­gate it. So I am hop­ing that in this fis­cal year that fund­ing will be re­leased so that we can do a ma­jor ex­ten­sive clean­ing of wa­ter­cours­es with the re­gion of Ma­yaro/Rio Claro.”

In a re­sponse yes­ter­day, ODPM head Cap­tain Neville Wint said based on his in­for­ma­tion, T&T Coast Guard of­fi­cers from the Ce­dros base and mem­bers of the Reg­i­ment were de­ployed to Ma­yaro on Sun­day and were there up to yes­ter­day.

Wint, who vis­it­ed Ma­yaro on Sun­day, along with Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young, Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Kaz­im Ho­sein and Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Clarence Ramb­harat, said 100 food fam­i­ly packs were giv­en to the RCM­RC that same day.

He said the RCM­RC sent trucks to the ODPM's ware­house to col­lect the packs, which can feed a fam­i­ly of five for up to three days. Each pack was ac­com­pa­nied by a case of wa­ter. He added that the ODPM has since dis­trib­uted hy­giene kits, san­i­tiz­ers and oth­er re­lief items to all im­pact­ed re­gion­al cor­po­ra­tions.

 - by Kevon Felmine. Photo by Rishi Ragoonath.

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