It has been a week of agony for Diego Martin, Petit Valley and Carenage residents victims of last Saturday’s severe flooding and landslides in which two lives were lost. Yesterday it was more sadness for some who also had to pay final respects to 66-year-old Solomon Britto, of Upper La Puerta Avenue, Diego Martin, who died after he was swept away by landslides. His funeral service took place at the Evangel Tabernacle Church, Richplain Road, Diego Martin. But under all the turmoil, hundreds of residents were able to smile once again as 2012 Olympic javelin gold medallist Keshorn Walcott and his fellow Olympians brought relief hampers to over 200 people at the Diego Martin Swimming Pool. Other athletes included 4x400 relay sprinter Machel Cedenio and marksman Roger Daniel. The athletes embarked on the first day of thier nationwide motorcade, starting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, and made their way through St James before heading into Diego Martin. There was no massive public audience on the streets as on Monday because it was a workday.
However, some came out of their businesses, waving miniature national flags, to cheer on the athletes. As Walcott and the other the athletes began to give out hampers, many recipients were more interested in getting his autograph or having their pictures taken with him. He said he was happy to take part in the event, noting that many people were distraught by the floods and landslips in the area. Asked what it meant to bring relief to the people, he said: “I don’t think that I am really bringing relief to them. I am just helping out with the procedures, that is giving. I am glad to help with each and everything. I know the people are feeling really bad about what had happened to them, so I am just thankful that I can help.” Walcott said he was pleased with the reception given to him by the residents and added he was coping with the attention he had been getting. He said: “Well, I am just glad that everyone is happy with what I have done. I am proud to have represented my country and I did great for the nation so I am just proud of myself. “The attention is normal. I don’t really study it that much. I know it was coming along with the medal. While in London I was trying to prepare for it. “The other guys were telling me about it so I prepared mentally, partially, for it. So things are really going good right now.” Cendeno said it was a great feeling to see the people smiling again.
The young sprinter added: “It feels pretty good seeing everybody here smiling. We know they were saddened by the landslides and all the rains. “So we just came to bring relief to everyone and everyone is just happy, so that makes me proud to see these happy faces on everyone here.” But while affected residents were delighted with the gesture, the memories of their homes being ravaged by nature’s fury continued to haunt them. Sylvia Ramdial, who spoke with a troubled voice, said too many bad things had happened over the past week. She said while being happy for the hamper she was burdened by the lost of her friend, Britto. “Well I hope we don’t get nothing like this again. I pray that God will save this country,” she added. Britto’s niece, Natasha Nottingham, was unable to feel overjoyed as she missed her uncle’s funeral service to meet with a Housing Development Corporation (HDC) official who had come to see her family’s ruined home. She said while she appreciated the gesture, her family would not be able to use it because they were staying at the Diamond Vale Community Centre, where there were no fridges or stoves.
However, she was pleased with the treatment she and her family got from the Red Cross, saying all the food they had received was already cooked. She described yesterday’s acts by Walcott as unselfish. She added: “ I think it is really amazing that someone so young has such great wisdom. I mean he is 19. You will be thinking to buy a brand new car or something. “I think it was very commendable of him. He is so unselfish and selfless to share with people in need.” Asked how life has been without a home, she added: “It is traumatising. Right now we are sleeping on pods, not that I am complaining. “I mean it is better than our home but sleeping on the pods is very hard. It’s hard because it’s an open area. It’s not like it’s enclosed, it’s not private. Everybody is having that same experience.”