Speedy flood relief grants for those hardest hit and no HDC payments till Jan

Among the lat­est as­sis­tance Gov­ern­ment is giv­ing those who suf­fered great loss­es from last week­end’s floods are two new speedy flood re­lief grants for those vic­tims hard­est hit and a de­fer­ral “bligh” on Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (HDC) pay­ments for flood vic­tims un­til Jan­u­ary.

A fam­i­ly with­out chil­dren who suf­fered cat­a­stroph­ic dam­age from flood wa­ters en­ter­ing their liv­ing space is el­i­gi­ble for a flat grant of $15,000. A sim­i­lar fam­i­ly with chil­dren will be el­i­gi­ble for a flat grant of $20,000, Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley an­nounced at yes­ter­day’s post-Cab­i­net me­dia brief­ing.

Row­ley con­firmed the grants will help at least 2,000 peo­ple who suf­fered cat­a­stroph­ic dam­age from last week­end’s floods. He al­so de­tailed oth­er con­ces­sions for Green­vale, La Hor­quet­ta res­i­dents who were among hard­est-hit.

The So­cial De­vel­op­ment/Fam­i­ly Ser­vices Min­istry, which has been do­ing as­sess­ments in re­cent days, will start is­su­ing cheques for the two cat­e­gories of flat grants from to­day, he added.

Row­ley said the re­cent bad weath­er dumped a month’s rain­fall on T&T in three to four days.

“It seems to have passed now and we have sun­shine but ar­eas af­fect­ed by flood wa­ters now have new is­sues of clean-up and re­moval of mud to pre­vent dust form­ing,” he said.

He said So­cial De­vel­op­ment as­sess­ment so far is that ap­prox­i­mate­ly 2,000 fam­i­lies suf­fered cat­a­stroph­ic ef­fects, los­ing every­thing.

“We nor­mal­ly have cer­tain kinds of re­liefs avail­able, but in this sit­u­a­tion we had to re­view what’s avail­able giv­en the wide­spread and ex­ten­sive na­ture of the dam­age with­in the house­holds and a cross-sec­tion of the pop­u­la­tion af­fect­ed,” he said.

He said Cab­i­net ex­am­ined what was avail­able, such as the $10,000 grant for ap­pli­ances and var­i­ous oth­er grants.

“To speed up this process and not have this de­tail­ing of each house­hold or each claimant, we de­cid­ed it would be rea­son­able and af­ford­able for the tax­pay­er to fund each house­hold that’s deemed by the So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­istry to have been im­pact­ed in a cat­a­stroph­ic way.”

Any such fam­i­ly with­out chil­dren would get the flat grant of $15,000 while those with chil­dren get $20,000

In the min­istry’s as­sess­ments, Row­ley said house­holds will qual­i­fy for these two grants de­pend­ing on what hap­pened to them.

If a fam­i­ly’s ground floor is a liv­ing space where items were all lost, they may qual­i­fy. But a fam­i­ly would not qual­i­fy if their ground floor is an open space, or on­ly has a ham­mock or cot, or if the wa­ter on their street was on­ly two feet and didn’t dam­age their prop­er­ty in­ter­nal­ly.

Speed­ing up the process with a flat grant will as­sist the min­istry to be­gin get­ting cheques out from to­day, he said.

“I asked pub­lic of­fi­cials is­su­ing cheques to do so with great dis­patch,” Row­ley said, as­sur­ing swift work.

Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Min­is­ter Stu­art Young said ini­tial as­sess­ment was that 3,500 house­holds – and 120,000 peo­ple – are af­fect­ed. He said the da­ta con­tin­ued to rise and Gov­ern­ment has trained munci­pal po­lice to help So­cial De­vel­op­ment as­ses­sors.

“It’s a mov­ing fig­ure, the Prime Min­is­ter is deal­ing now with 2,000 who were as­sessed and we ex­pect the num­ber to con­tin­ue up­ward.”

The flat grants are ex­pect­ed to as­sist house­holds from Mafek­ing, San­gre Grande and Green­vale to St He­le­na, El Car­men and oth­er parts of North Oropouche, who were among the hard­est hit by floods.

For peo­ple who haven’t suf­fered cat­a­stroph­ic dam­age but have been af­fect­ed in some way, the orig­i­nal arrange­ment for grants/as­sis­tance re­mains in place, Row­ley said.

They can ap­ply for oth­er grants once they can show they’ve been im­pact­ed and re­quire funds to fix elec­tri­cal, plumb­ing or dam­age to prop­er­ty. He said those grants are $15,000, $20,000 and $25,000.

2-month mort­gage break for HDC ten­ants

In Green­vale’s case par­tic­u­lar­ly, Row­ley said all its un­der­ground elec­tri­cal con­duits were im­pact­ed by floods.

Be­cause it’s an HDC de­vel­op­ment, he said the HDC will do in­spec­tion and rec­ti­fy all elec­tri­cal and plumb­ing prob­lems. As a re­sult, Green­vale ten­ants won’t qual­i­fy for grants to fix plumb­ing or elec­tri­cal dam­age. A state agency is in­spect­ing all hous­es to en­sure elec­tri­cals are back to nor­mal.

Row­ley al­so an­nounced that peo­ple in Green­vale, Oro­poune or any oth­er flood-hit HDC de­vel­op­ment who pay mort­gage or rentals will get tem­po­rary re­lief from HDC.

He said the Hous­ing Min­is­ter will com­mu­ni­cate with the mort­gage agency for a de­fer­ral of arrange­ments un­til Jan­u­ary for such peo­ple who have mort­gages/li­a­bil­i­ty on HDC units.

HDC will do the same for its ten­ants,”to give peo­ple a lit­tle more mon­ey to treat with their im­me­di­ate needs apart from the grants they’ll get,” the PM added.

Row­ley stressed grants aren’t “com­pen­sa­tion” but as­sis­tance. The Fi­nance Min­istry is fund­ing the So­cial De­vel­op­ment re­lief. He said Gov­ern­ment will use what it has un­til ar­rival of the $4 mil­lion in flood re­lief re­cent­ly of­fered by three in­ter­na­tion­al banks.

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