GALVANISED roofing sheets of over 40 homes blew off during heavy rain and winds on Tuesday leaving people and their property soaked and damaged. But one man stepped out his house seconds before the family’s home crumbled.
Standing on Wednesday in the debris at Aripero Village, crab catcher Sham Maraj said the wooden house started to rock due to the strong winds and heavy rain. Maraj, 52, his common-law wife Monica Thornhill, 44, and his 15-year-old daughter Bridget are now homeless.
Maraj said: "There was no warning. Within seconds, everything was gone. There was nothing I could have done. The house started to rock and with that, I walked out. That was the end of it. When I looked back, the house was flat."
Looking at broken items, Maraj added: "I born and grow up here. My father always taught me that whenever I see rain and a hard breeze to go for shelter," Maraj said.
Thornhill was at Chaguanas when the house, which is not wired for electricity, came crashing down. Chaguanas was sunny and when she received a call about it, initially she did not believe it.
"My daughter said the house fall. I asked if the roof came off and she said no ‘everything fall’. Last night, Sham and I spend the night in the car, and she stayed by someone. He has diabetes and has to get surgery because he cannot see in one eye," Thornhill said.
The family does not know where they will get money to start the rebuilding process.
At Poptie Trace, families were busy trying to secure roofs. Victor Jattan said the roof blew off to the back of the two-storey house. Water flooded the upstairs and seeped through the wooden flooring causing further damage to household items downstairs.
Ikeisha Ramnath, who lives nearby, said she had just finished doing laundry and the strong winds and heavy rain cause the galvanised roof to flap.
"This wind was blowing out of control. I started to panic; I was very frightened. I see the galvanise lifting but it did not come off. The bed inside got wet but it was nothing major with me compared to other people. The line with clothes burst and today I washed over the clothes."
The strong winds lasted 20 minutes but the rain continued for over an hour.
Dave Deorajsingh, 50, who lives at the Southern Main Road, Rousillac, said after the storm ended, the family bailed out water. The roof ripped off and was temporarily replaced with a tarpaulin.
Councillor for the area Chanardaye Ramadharsingh said she was arranging to buy materials for the victims.
"We have been calling National Commission for Self Help officers from this area and there is no response. We will be preparing a list and take it to Self Help. In one case, a parent bought schoolbooks and she had them on the table. Books, uniforms, everything was soaked."
Chairman of the Siparia Regional Corporation Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh said the Government’s response to the incident was a "human tragedy."
"It is even more tragic that I cannot come with any resources from the corporation except for an intake form and an incident report. We intend to send the information the Self Help and the Ministry of Social Development. These people have not sent one representative here to provide hope for the families."
He said the Maraj family and other affected residents need counselling and psychosocial support and accused the Government of failing the people.
"Where is the action? We don’t have the money, we don’t have the resources to give these people anything."