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Monday 27 January 2020
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FORSAKEN AND FORGOTTEN

Flood victims slam govt’s response

STRANDED: Ramkisson Rampersad and his wife Sheila look out a window at their Pluck Road, La Fortune, Woodland home on Friday. The area has been flooded since Wednesday. PHOTO BY LINCOLN HOLDER (SEE PAGE 11) - Lincoln Holder
STRANDED: Ramkisson Rampersad and his wife Sheila look out a window at their Pluck Road, La Fortune, Woodland home on Friday. The area has been flooded since Wednesday. PHOTO BY LINCOLN HOLDER (SEE PAGE 11) - Lincoln Holder

Penal/Debe residents are claiming that they have been forgotten and forsaken by the authorities, as they try to cope with the aftermath of flooding in their area after three days of heavy rainfall. Floodwaters receded considerably Friday, but residents were left with mud and filth everywhere.

Adding to the frustration of having to spend most of their time and money in a massive clean-up operation, some of them say they have never seen such a situation in their area before. Simon Mungal, who has been living in Mahadeo Trace for 45 years, told Newsday,“We need the Penal/Debe Corporation to come and power-wash this place, and spray for mosquitoes and other insects.”

Water rose by some five feet, and some areas were still under three feet up to Friday. Victims echoed Mungal's sentiments that they have been forsaken and forgotten by the authorities.

"In 2017, the floods caused tremendous damage and we had to construct walls and place sandbags on the side of our houses," Mungal said. "We saw the regiment and army here. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management came and provided assistance in the clean-up drive.

“In 2019 the floods were so bad the sewer overflowed. The water covered walls and sandbags and we now have twice as much damage, but no one showed up to assist the helpless villagers."

Mungal said residents are suffering as they have no place to go and no assistance to alleviate their stressful situation.

“Government officials and others responsible for social welfare, who are being paid to assess the situation, are nowhere to be seen. They turned their backs on the people of Penal/Debe, Palo Seco and Barrackpore."

The Rameshwar Mandir has since opened its doors to 28 Venezuelan immigrants whose homes were flooded out on Thursday. “There are mothers and children with no food or clothes and we had to reach out and provide assistance for them,” Mungal said. "These immigrants who found employment in the Debe area could not reach to their jobs since Wednesday."

Naresh Lutchmeesingh, father of three, in an act of desperation to clean his home, hurried through the floods to the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation only to be told that they could not help because they had no supplies. Lutchmeesingh's ten-year-old daughter Arianna developed a skin rash all over her body from going through the muddy waters.

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