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PM: Govt will do all to help flood victims
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the Government will do its best to assist flood victims but not all will be compensated for their losses. She thanked God yesterday that no lives were lost during Saturday’s downpour. She said saving lives was a priority. The Prime Minister began her tour of affected communities at 12.20 pm at Maraval in the vicinity of KFC along with several members of her Cabinet, such as Works and Infrastructure Minister Jack Warner, Local Government Minister Chandresh Sharma, National Security Minister John Sandy, Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar and Public Utilities Minister Emmanuel George.
Also on the tour were officers from the T&T Defence Force and the Office of Disaster of Preparedness and Management (ODPM). The PM and her team met and greeted several residents in La Seiva, Eckel Avenue and Gittens Road in Maraval, Dibe Road and Cocorite. Almost four hours after, she spoke to the media for just under ten minutes at Waterhole, Cocorite. Around 2.20 pm, the media were told that Persad-Bissessar was taking a short rest at the Diplomatic Centre before resuming the tour at Dibe Road. Persad-Bissessar said the relevant ministries would conduct assessments to homes and properties “and see how best we can help within the framework that exists.”
She said: “I think it will be totally foolhardy of me and reckless, should I say yes, every single person is going to be compensated. “Should we do that, there might not be a cent left in the Treasury,” she added. She said the Government will try to mitigate losses. The PM said it was not her job to say whether there would be 100 per cent compensation and that such a pronouncement had to come from the Ministry of the People and Social Development and other agencies. “Assist we will, and we shall,” Persad-Bissessar said. On May 27, 2010, just days after leading the People’s Partnership to a landslide victory in the general election, Persad-Bissessar hurriedly left the swearing-in ceremony to tour flood-affected areas in east and central Trinidad.
She told reporters then: “All we can do is offer immediate assistance, relief, in terms of food, drinking water, a dry place to sleep.” Yesterday, Persad-Bissessar expressed sympathy with people who “have lost so much.” She said the regulation of building and land development was vital. “We can see today that that is a major factor contributing to what we are seeing,” she said. She said environmental protection was also important and more stringent measures were needed. The PM said Town and Country Planning “has not been Town and Country Planning” for more than 40 years. She said more stringent measures were also needed in that division. She said: “Whilst we bemoan and we are very saddened at the damage done and the losses suffered by our fellow citizens, I want to say thanks to God that we have not lost a life.”
Many people were happy to see the PM and her team, while others were critical. One unidentified female resident in Dibe Road said: “They eh doing nothing for we. “All that set of drama. “Aunty Kamla in town, only camera action.” In Cocorite, an elderly woman hugged the PM praising her efforts. A woman in a nearby parlour said: “She is ah nice looking woman.” Members of the Defence Force, ODPM, CEPEP, T&T Electricity Commission, Water and Sewerage Authority, Flow and other agencies were out in full force assisting with the clean up process. A CEPEP worker on Eckel Avenue, Maraval, said he arrived on the scene at 7.30 am, and on Saturday night cleaned from 6 pm to 11 pm. One affected family in La Seiva lost an entire kitchen and a car was washed away into a nearby river. Other families’ homes were covered in several feet of slush, while appliances and furniture, board games, toys and boxes of cereal were staked in piles of mud.
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