Greenvale tenants still fixing homes after floods - bleak Christmas ahead

All is still not well for res­i­dents in the Green­vale, La Hor­quet­ta de­vel­op­ment, as scores of fam­i­lies are re­main dis­placed be­cause their homes are un­der heavy con­struc­tion.

Dur­ing a vis­it to the com­mu­ni­ty yes­ter­day, many res­i­dents were seen try­ing fever­ish­ly to get their lives back in or­der af­ter the dis­as­trous flood­ing which oc­curred on Oc­to­ber 19. Many homes were vir­tu­al­ly emp­ty in­side and all the res­i­dents’ fur­ni­ture and ap­pli­ances were cov­ered in their yards be­cause in­side their home were still un­in­hab­it­able in some cas­es.

One res­i­dent said peo­ple on the out­side think that things were bet­ter but they are not.

“Peo­ple on the out­side are be­ing told that our lives in Green­vale are back to nor­mal and every­thing is ok with us but it is not. My chil­dren are not here with me. My house still needs a lot more work to be done. We wouldn’t even be done for Christ­mas,” a moth­er of two who did not want to be named, said.

“All my tiles raised, kitchen cup­boards and doors gone through with the wa­ters and now there are a lot of fac­tors that keep­ing us back…the weath­er or work­ers too slow or the cheques took a lit­tle long to hand out to us and as soon as it did the mon­ey dis­ap­peared in a flash…but that was not enough to even touch the tip of the ice­berg.”

An­oth­er res­i­dent, Thad­deus Cara­bal­lo, said so far he had spent close to $20,000 in ad­di­tion to the re­lief cheque he got.

“I have my fam­i­ly to see about….my son, girl­friend and my moth­er, who is a can­cer pa­tient. It is very hard that I have be­come scared when usu­al­ly I am a men­tal­ly fo­cused per­son. My ex­pe­ri­ence in what I went through and my neigh­bours was like a liv­ing night­mare,” Cara­bal­lo said.

“In try­ing to get my house back in or­der I have slept many nights with no doors and all my things out­side.”

He said he had cast his yard in con­crete and even built con­crete kitchen cup­boards be­cause “I’m afraid that we can be hit by flood­ing again and then every­thing will be back to square one.”

Yes­ter­day, La Hor­quet­ta/Tal­paro MP Max­ie Cuffie held a Thanks­giv­ing Ser­vice at “The Tri­an­gle” of the hous­ing de­vel­op­ment for res­i­dents, but there was a poor turnout. At times dur­ing the ser­vice, there were in­ter­vals where the sound of con­struc­tion tools and the shov­el­ling of grav­el over­pow­ered the ser­vice’s PA sys­tem.

One res­i­dent who spoke dur­ing the ser­vice said she thanked God for life and de­scribed how trau­mat­ic her ex­pe­ri­ence was.

“I re­mem­ber just see­ing the wa­ter cross­ing my steps and then sud­den­ly it came down in a rag­ing gush…I was home alone at the time and re­mem­ber look­ing down­stairs and see­ing a snake and wa­ter all around…then the elec­tric­i­ty went and I was left in to­tal dark­ness in this state.”

An­oth­er res­i­dent, who wished not to be iden­ti­fied, said many of them need coun­selling ser­vices, which he said was ini­tial­ly of­fered by Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment of­fi­cials. How­ev­er, he added that it was dif­fi­cult to ac­tu­al­ly ac­cess the ser­vice as they were told to vis­it the min­istry’s Tu­na­puna of­fice for help.

“We are al­ready in dis­tress. My car was un­der wa­ter. How could we have left the area in this state to go for coun­selling? We still need it here and we are hear­ing noth­ing.”

He added that since the flood­ing he has been hear­ing from pub­lic of­fi­cials that they would start re­me­di­al works in the area, but to date he has seen no sign of this.

In a brief and emo­tion­al ad­dress to res­i­dents, Cuffie said the de­vel­op­er had pre­sent­ed to him a re­me­di­al plan.

“I have since shared that plan with the Min­is­ter of Works and the plan could not just be for Green­vale but all ar­eas that ex­pe­ri­enced flood­ing and the Prime Min­is­ter said that Gov­ern­ment would be us­ing all that is nec­es­sary to en­sure that we pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing again and I have the faith that we will get ac­tion to en­sure that we don’t have to be wor­ried every time it sets to rain.” 

- by Rhondor Dowlat

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