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Friday 6 December 2019
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Strong winds blow off roofs at Princes Town

Workmen  hard at work helping affected residents of Craignish village Princes Town after heavy rains and strong winds blew roofs off several homes - Lincoln Holder
Workmen hard at work helping affected residents of Craignish village Princes Town after heavy rains and strong winds blew roofs off several homes - Lincoln Holder

At least ten homes in Princes Town were damaged on Tuesday by gusty winds, accompanied by a bout of heavy rain, which blew off parts of roofs.

A family who live on the top floor of their business, Christos Plumbing and Electrical Supplies at the Naparima/Mayaro Road, was visibly traumatised.

One of them said, "It was like a tornado. It happened after 2 am. When I wake, I felt a strong wind at the time. The roof ripped off and ended at the back."

Workers were trying to repair the damage.

Electrician Simon Puchoon, who lives in Claxton Bay, said he got a call from an occupant of the house at about 4 am and left to see the damage.

"About 85 per cent of the roof gone. The ceiling came down and everything was soaked inside. Two people got scratches. T&TEC later came and disconnect the electricity."

There were no reports of serious injuries.

Across the road, Steven Seekumar and his wife Nandanie said they heard a loud crash over their bedroom and water began pouring in. They looked out and saw the neighbour's roof had been blown off.

"About 25 per cent of the roof gone. The air-conditioning unit is no longer working. The TV in the room spoiled. We have to re-sheet and re-do the electrical wiring. Officials from T&TEC and the fire station visited earlier on."

Seekumar estimated losses at over $10,000.

At Broomage Street, the home of Leisha Campbell, 63, and her 71-year-old husband Courtney was left water-soaked, with parts of the roof landing in two places in the yard.

Campbell recalled at about 2.15 am, she was not asleep, and the family’s dog, Tiger, kept crying. In hindsight, she believes it was a sign of what was to happen a moment later.

She said, "Tiger was crying and crying but would not stop. Normally Tiger does not cry. Maybe he sensed it.

"Next thing, I heard a bang. I looked outside and saw part of the roof from the back, in the front yard."

One piece of the roof damaged the wire fence and the other, a pommecythere tree. The kitchen and part of the living room were soaked.

Two relatives who live downstairs were not at home.

Campbell said she has been preparing for her annual Christmas treat for children.

"The roof came off, with rafters and everything. Thank God the items I have for the children are by my niece’s home. Hopefully, everything here would be organised to have it the treat here on Saturday. For the morning, we already spent $5,000 on galvanise."

Hours after the incident, Princes Town MP Barry Padarath together with the former chairman of the Princes Town Regional Corporation (PTRC), Gowrie Roopnarine, and all the councillors visited the area.

Paradath told Newsday staff from PTRC’s disaster management unit were providing temporary relief such as tarpaulins to affected people.

"However, this would require long-term assistance. So we are collecting the data on the field and we would be making applications on their behalf to the ministries of Social Development and Community Development, for home improvement grants and other assistance.

He said many people had started repairing their homes with their materials.

Paradath hopes the Government will intervene. He also intends to raise the issue in Parliament as well as liaising with the relevant ministers "to see what immediate assistance we can get."

In Monday’s local government elections, the UNC made a clean sweep in the area, winning all ten electoral districts. In 2016, it won nine seats. Former councillor for Lengua / Indian Walk Haniff Salmat was the lone PNM representative.

Padarath referred to newly minted councillor for Lengua/Indian Walk Rajesh Lall as the man who "brought the whitewash" to PTRC.

Most of the affected homes were in Lall’s district and others in the St Julien/ Princes Town North, which was retained by Latchmi Narine Ramdhan.

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