Grandmother: Thank God, we’re alive
By Sasha Harrinanan Friday, August 17 2012
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Pile up: Maria Maraj, at her home in Petit Valley yesterday, stands before a pile of her furniture ruined by last Saturday's floods at her home in Pet...
Maria Maraj may have lost all of the household belongings in Saturday’s landslide at her Ravine Road, Petit Valley home, but she exuded a positive attitude when Newsday visited her home yesterday, thanking God for sparing her life and those of her loved ones.
“I thank God that I am still here, that no one was hurt or died and that I am alive to share joy with my family.” Maraj recalled how everything changed so suddenly for herself, her husband, two sons and two granddaughters before dawn last Saturday.
“I got up to use the bathroom around 4.55 am and heard one of my granddaughters shouting ‘Granny, Granny, Granny,’ not knowing is water in the living room she was (alerting) me to. Is when I stepped into it that I realised. There was a layer of heavy slush on the floor with real muddy water on top. It was chaotic and very traumatic for all of us,” Maraj recalled.
Everything in her house had to be removed, including the refridgerator, stove, beds, mattresses, couch set, washing machine and a space-saver. Not even the bathroom is working, so the family of six has built a temporary bathroom in the only remaining flat space to the back of the house, which is nestled in a hillside.
“Everyone is traumatised. I can’t sleep, my stomach hurts and I ran out of my hypertension medication three days ago on Monday. I’m like a policeman on duty, waiting for the next landslide to happen. If it only rains heavily again, I figure more of the mountain going to come down, along with the rubbish people like to dump on the ridge. An old stove ended up in my yard because someone left it up the mountain.”
Maraj blamed much of last Saturday’s massive flooding and landslides in western Trinidad on indiscriminate cutting into the mountainous region and dumping of rubbish on the hillsides.
“People blaming the Government for not doing this and that but they need to blame those who cutting the forest, who dumping their old stove and dirty diapers where they feel nobody living. They caused much of this,” Maraj declared.
Asked if she had applied for grants at one of the five Strategic Social Impact (SSI) Centres, which were set up two days ago by the Ministry of the People and Social Development, Maraj told Newsday she was on a disaster list and would be grateful for whatever money she is given. “At this point I have no idea how much it will cost to replace everything. Right now we’re still shoveling out the dirt. The (Diego Martin) Regional Corporation came and power washed inside the house, so at least it’s clean.
Whatever is given to me, I will try to make my way as best I can.” When asked what she thought of the complaints by some on Wednesday that the grants were insufficient to replace their belongings, Maraj said people seemed ungrateful for the help they were actually getting from Government agencies.
“They politicising this thing. Be grateful for what help you are given and place the blame where it belongs — on those who cut the mountain, dump the rubbish,” Maraj said.