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Thursday 18 July 2019
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[UPDATED] 81 to sue HDC

Greenvale residents unhappy with treatment after floods

Coast Guard teams rescue residents from HDC's Greenvale Park, La Horquetta, after flooding to torrential rainfall on October 20, 2018. FILE PHOTO: LINCOLN HOLDER
Coast Guard teams rescue residents from HDC's Greenvale Park, La Horquetta, after flooding to torrential rainfall on October 20, 2018. FILE PHOTO: LINCOLN HOLDER

THE Housing Development Corporation (HDC) was negligent and breached its duty, according to a pre-action protocol letter sent to the corporation by residents affected by last year’s flooding in Greenvale, La Horquetta.

According to the 19-page document, the HDC was reckless and in breach of its statutory duty in constructing the development on the flood plains of the Caroni River.

The letter, dated July 5, was sent to HDC managing director Brent Lyons.

The 81 residents are seeking costs, interest on damages, aggravated and or exemplary damages, damages for distress and anxiety, damages for personal and property and damages for devaluing of interest to their homes.

The residents claimed they also suffered skin infections and other medical conditions caused by the flooding and had to incur medical expenses to treat them.

They gave the HDC until August 5 to respond and settle, or the matter will be pursued in court. The residents did not say how much they hoped to get from the HDC, but are willing to discuss a settlement.

The letter said the HDC owed the residents, since it was their landlord, builder of their homes and the development and responsible for managing and maintaining the development.

The HDC’s duties, it said, included a duty to provide its clients with housing and a supportive infrastructure fit for long-term use; to provide housing that would not cause harm to their physical and mental health; to implement adequate drainage and flood-prevention measures along with disaster management strategies. The HDC was also duty-bound, according to the letter, to take all reasonable steps to prevent flooding; obtain the requisite approvals before constructing the development and to disclose to the tenants that the land was prone to flooding.

“The harm our clients suffered through flooding at the development both prior to and including the October 2018 flooding, would not have happened but for the HDC’s negligence and/or breach of duty. The harm suffered by our clients was an inevitable consequence of the construction of the development.” the letter said.

It went on: “The construction of the development was unauthorised and unlawful. The HDC ignored repeated warnings from various bodies that the site of the development was dangerously prone to flooding and unsuitable for housing. Notwithstanding such warnings, the HDC proceeded to construct the development without the necessary statutory approvals or regard for the flood mitigation measures it had itself identified. “Further, ‘Greenvale’ is now synonymous with flooding and our clients will forever suffer the negative consequences of living in the development, in particular the inevitable reduction in property values. The public are aware that houses in the development are prone to severe flooding including flooding to the underground sewerage system. Consequently, our clients are left to pay for homes at a rate that no longer reflects market value.”

The residents are being represented by Gregory Delzin, Dianne Mano, Rafiya Karim, Joseph Cowles and Melissa Mano.

After torrential rainfall on October 18 and 19 last year, which the Meteorological Service said was equivalent to a month of rain, Greenvale and other parts of the country were overwhelmed by floodwaters.

The HDC said it cost $30,416,004 to repair affected Greenvale homes. In November, the Prime Minister said over $30 million had been spent on flood relief, with an additional $30 million in grants to affected homeowners. Some households received a minimum of $15,000 and others got up to $20,000.

The HDC built 435 housing units in Greenvale. The initial project was supposed to have been in five phases, but phases four and five, which up to 2014 had not yet been developed, were abandoned.

Phases one and two were completed in 2014 and the third phase in 2015 and distribution took place from 2014-2016.

The three phases were completed at a cost of $336 million, which included the cost of retention ponds, pumps and embankments. Phases one and two were constructed by Motilal Ramhit and Sons Contracting Ltd and phase three by Trinity Housing.

After the flooding, the Prime Minister ordered a hydrological report “to determine why Greenvale was so heavily impacted and to determine what, if anything, can be done in terms of physical works to interfere with the drainage system there to, if not eliminate, but ameliorate and bring greater comfort to those persons who live in that area.”

This story was originally published with the title "81 Greenvale residents seek $$ over flooding" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.


GREENVALE Park residents, through their attorneys, have sent a pre-action protocol letter to the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) demanding compensation for their losses in last year's flooding.

The letter, dated July 5, was sent to HDC managing director Brent Lyons.

The 81 residents – represented by Gregory Delzin, Dianne Mano, Rafiya Karim, Joseph Cowles and Melissa Mano – are seeking costs, interests on damages, aggravated and or exemplary damages, damages for distress and anxiety, damages for personal and property and damages for devaluing of interest to their homes. The residents gave HDC until August 5 to respond and settle, or the matter will be pursued in court.

In their letter, the residents say the HDC ignored all warnings and rejections not to construct homes in the flood-prone area and as a result is solely at fault for their distress and property damage. The residents did not say how much they hope to get from HDC, but are willing to discuss a settlement.

In November last year, the Prime Minister said over $30 million was spent on flood relief, with an additional $30 million in grants allocated to affected homeowners. Some households received a minimum of $15,000 while others got up to $20,000.

The HDC said it cost $30,416,004 to repair affected Greenvale homes.

The letter said: "The construction of the development was unauthorised and unlawful. The HDC ignored repeated warnings from various bodies that the site of the development was dangerously prone to flooding and unsuitable for housing. Notwithstanding such warnings, the HDC proceeded to construct the development without the necessary statutory approvals or regard for the flood mitigation measures it had itself identified."

The residents are claiming the HDC was negligent, in breach of duty and caused a continuing nuisance.

The HDC built 435 housing units in Greenvale, a community in La Horquetta, for $336 million.

After torrential rainfall on October 18 and 19 last year, which the Meteorological Service said was equivalent to a month of rain, Greenvale and other parts of the country were overwhelmed by floodwaters.

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