WHILE many people are busy preparing their homes to celebrate Christmas Day on Sunday, many residents and businessmen in Bamboo Village, Kelly Village and parts of St Helena are still struggling to recover from the devastating floods in November.
Most said they would be spending their Christmas weekend trying to salvage whatever personal items they can. Several residents told Newsday on Thursday that they remain traumatised as their homes are still in disarray after the floods. Many have been unable to replaced water-damaged furniture and other household items.
Virginia Ramkissoon, 65, wept while speaking with Newsday at her Jaffar Street, Bamboo home on Thursday. The walls inside her humble house still bear brown stains from where flood water levels rose.
“I not seeing a Christmas this year. Every day I does cry as I still can't ketch mehself," she said.
"I lost clothes, all my mother nice things which she left me when she died, bed, mattress, furniture...things floated away in the floods. I need help!
“They came around and bring mattresses to each home and there are people who didn’t get flooded out but got mattresses too. That is not fair."
Madras Road, St Helena resident Avianne Lewis said she hopes to bring a little Christmas cheer to her children even after they lost clothes and school books in the flood.
“My baby lost his clothes and my daughter and son lost their school books. The water was so high I lost plenty of things which I haven't as yet accounted for. I lost my washing machine, my fridge got damaged and I lost my mattresses," Lewis said.
She recalled the trauma of being marooned in her home for over two days while waiting for the water to subside.
At the back of a small Christmas tree, this reporter noticed stains on the walls left by the brown flood waters.
“I had to put it up (the Christmas tree) for the little one. My children have to at least see something about Christmas. I know this year, things won't be so bright for us, but I have to try to bring some cheer for my children."
Sitting on a couch nearby, Lewis' mother-in-law shouted, "everything gone through!"
In Kelly Village, Gaindee Roopnarine said most of the cleaning up was done but Christmas this year would be a gloomy one.
"We still waiting for people from the corporation to come and fix the sewer system. The flooding caused the sewer to overflow and up to now we still getting the smell. They keep saying they would come, but...nothing yet."
In Bamboo #2, workers of Bobby's Motor Supplies say they still have a long way to go before the business can resume operations.
The building manager who only have his name as Kaleem, predicted it would take another two months before the business is cleaned up and can reopen.
He said that the owners have installed floodgates and are working on other preventive measures for when the next round of flooding takes place in the next rainy season. Losses have been estimated at over $40m.
“This never happened before and we can’t afford for it to happen to us again,” he told Newsday during a brief walk-through of the businessplace.
In early December, government approved a $40 million relief fund for people in areas devastated by the floods.
A release from the Office of the Prime Minister said the funds are to “provide sustenance and comfort for those directly distressed by the recent weather emergency.”
Both Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi and interim CEO of the National Commission for Self Help Akino Greene could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Newsday was able to reach Minister of Social Development and Family Services, Donna Cox, who assured that her ministry was working assiduously to provide support to flood victims.
“We have given a lot of flood food support. Up to this week, our officers were giving food support cards. We have also received applications (for help) from the disaster management unit of the Rural Development and Local Government Ministry and these applications are being processed,” Cox said.