Although T&T is facing a difficult period following devastating flooding last weekend, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley admits he felt compelled to turn down help from Caricom countries because “we have been coping …. and coping very well.”
Rowley said he said nothing wrong by not accepting help from our Caribbean neighbours.
At a sod turning ceremony for the new Diego Martin health centre yesterday morning, Dr Rowley said it was sad that at a time when the national spirit rose higher than expected, some people found a way to dim our light.
As he celebrated his 69th birthday with smiles, an upbeat Rowley said as citizens we continue to pull ourselves down when we should be putting ourselves up.
“People in this country miserable yuh know… cantankerous … to the extent that sometimes they miss the flowers and they miss the gentle breeze.”
“They can find the way, if given a chance, to make negatives out of every possible thing. So I take the opportunity now to clarify a couple of things for the benefit of the national community.”
Rowley noted that several Caribbean prime ministers had contacted him on Monday to express their concern for the people of T&T. But he said when his Caricom colleagues called to offer help, it wasn’t necessarily implied or meant that they would hand the country a cheque.
“What is wrong with us? When my Caricom colleagues, all of whom, from Suriname to Jamaica, called to commiserate with us and they said well if you need help we here, it is like somebody saying to you, ‘how you do’ and you start reading out your medical condition and the last visit to the doctor. These are not questions that require an answer. It wasn’t meant that they were going to hand us a cheque. It meant they were acknowledging we were in difficulty and they were standing with us firstly in spirit and secondly if physically they could contribute then they would,” Rowley said.
“There is an issue now that we were offered help from our Caricom territories and the Prime Minister turned it down,” he said.
He said it was very easy for people to criticise.
Rowley said many people told him how close they came to death.
“It happened so quickly to those in the buildings but then people say the Coast Guard and army weren’t there.”
He said while there was very little that could have been done to prevent the flooding, as his government moved forward it would learn from the experience.
“Let us not pull ourselves down.
“As we go forward, let us be grateful as a people.”
Rowley said the country has to give thanks that having faced a 6.9 magnitude earthquake in August and the recent floods, “Trinidad and Tobago can report that we lost no life and no limb.”