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.