Tag: trinidad flood relief

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.

PM- People find a way to make negatives out of everything

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.”

Young urges flood victims to be wary of relief bandits

In response to reports of flood victims being confronted by bandits for their relief supplies, Minister of National Security Stuart Young said there has been an increase in joint police and army patrols in flood affected areas and a heightened security at relief shelters to prevent instances of robbery.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday morning at the Ministry of National Security on Abercromby Street, Port of Spain, Young confirmed that one victim reached out to him personally and reported they were confronted by some people who wanted to steal the relief items for themselves in the St Helena area.

Young said he immediately contacted the police who together with the defence force has begun an increase in patrols in the area.

“I can understand that there is a lot of frustration as Minister Sinanan alluded to, in some of these areas it is very spread out and there are not people on the main roads. It is quite an exercise to get relief supplies to victims, but I would like to tell persons to please do not take advantage of the situation. We are getting reports that it has gone beyond double dipping of relief supplies. The police were very quick in dealing with it, there was no violence or anything.”

Almost 500 cheques ready for flood victims

Min­is­ter of So­cial De­vel­op­ment and Fam­i­ly Ser­vices Cher­rie-Ann Crichlow-Cock­burn has al­ready pre­pared re­lief grants for 194 house­holds af­fect­ed by last week­end’s dev­ast­ing floods.

Speak­ing at a joint press con­fer­ence at the Min­istry of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty in Port-of-Spain yesterday, Crichlow-Cock­burn said her min­istry was ex­pect­ed to have cheques pre­pared for 253 ad­di­tion­al fam­i­lies by the end of yesterday.

Crichlow-Cock­burn did not say whether the cheques had al­ready been dis­trib­uted to vic­tims at the time of the press con­fer­ence, but she ex­plained that the first batch of cheques on­ly cov­ered the $10,000 grants be­ing of­fered by the Gov­ern­ment to help vic­tims re­place their dam­aged elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances and fur­ni­ture. She said the oth­er grants to ad­dress dam­age to their homes will be processed at a lat­er date.

Crichlow-Cock­burn said be­tween Mon­day morn­ing and Tues­day af­ter­noon her min­istry’s staff were able to com­plete 1,502 dam­age as­sess­ments in the af­fect­ed com­mu­ni­ties.

110 were done in Ch­agua­nas, 137 in Rio Claro, 190 in San­gre Grande and 1,065 in the Tu­na­puna/Pi­ar­co re­gion. In Cou­va/Tabaquite, 99 per cent of vic­tims were as­sessed.

She claimed that the min­istry is ex­pect­ed to com­plete the as­sess­ment process by the end of the week, once flood wa­ter had sub­sided in El So­cor­ro, Bam­boo Set­tle­ment and ar­eas in Ma­yaro that were still un­der wa­ter.

In to­tal, fam­i­lies af­fect­ed by the flood­ing can claim a lit­tle over $70,000 in grants de­pend­ing on the dam­age their homes sus­tained and the num­ber of peo­ple liv­ing in the house­hold.

In ad­di­tion to the $10,000 grant for ap­pli­ances and fur­ni­ture, the Gov­ern­ment is al­so of­fer­ing be­tween $15,000 and $20,000 for struc­tur­al dam­age to homes, $25,000 for elec­tri­cal re-wiring and $15,000 for plumb­ing re­pairs.

Each per­son af­fect­ed is al­so en­ti­tled to claim a $1,000 cloth­ing grant, while pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary school stu­dents will re­ceive $700 and $1,000 re­spec­tive­ly if their school sup­plies were dam­aged.

Crichlow-Cock­burn ex­plained that fam­i­lies could make claims for all the grants, pro­vid­ed that they qual­i­fied.

Young- Different assessment methods for flood relief grants

The Ministry of Social Development has changed its methodology of assessing persons for flood relief grants, National Security Minister Stuart Young has said.

Young said the Ministry will now apply “more common sense” to the methodology, bearing in mind that not everyone is expected to keep their flood damaged furniture and appliances.

Regional Corporations had been advising persons waiting to be assessed for Government grants, not to get rid of their damaged belongings until they were assessed.

“In discussions with the Minister of Social Development they have changed the methodology of accessing because we recognise that, especially in places like Greenvale and other associated areas, we don’t expect people to keep their appliances. And they (Ministry) are developing different tests like looking at the water level marks. In the Greenvale area we know that practically everybody at a certain water level would have suffered loss,” Young said during Tuesday’s joint media conference to update the nation on ongoing flood relief efforts.

He said while the methodology has changed, the quantum of the grants will remain the same, so affected residents in Greenvale will still receive a $15,000 grant.

“It is not an increase in grants for anyone. There is not going to be any discrimination in grants for any specific area. The grant level remains as is. But in the Greenvale area, anyone who’s been on the ground there would know that you can state as a fact without fear of contradiction that up to a certain level (were affected). So all single storey homes, all two storey homes you saw in every single home where the water level reached above counter height, so it will affect all appliances…the washing machines, the stoves, the fridges,” he explained.

“So it is easy in an area like that, that is actually a blocked off area, to say this is where the water level reached, so you know anybody below that water level has suffered loss and damage,” he added.

On Monday, Social Development Minister Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn said distribution of grants will begin before the end of this week.

She said the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) will be responsible for the $15,000 house repair grants for persons within its affected developments; Oropune, La Horquetta and Greenvale.

Crichlow-Cockburn added that the Ministry of Housing and Self Help will deal with grants for other affected areas, while the Ministry of Social Development would be responsible for grants for the replacement of household appliances, furniture and sanitary plumbing.

PM’s $25M flood relief pledge only a preliminary estimate

Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley’s $25 mil­lion pledge for re­lief for the vic­tims of last week­end’s dev­as­tat­ing floods was on­ly a pre­lim­i­nary es­ti­mate.

Speak­ing at a joint press con­fer­ence at his Port-of-Spain of­fice yes­ter­day, Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Stu­art Young ad­mit­ted the fig­ure may rise or fall de­pend­ing on on­go­ing as­sess­ments be­ing con­duct­ed by gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

Young de­scribed the pub­lic crit­i­cism over the al­leged in­abil­i­ty of the funds to bring re­lief to the es­ti­mat­ed 120,000 vic­tims of the flood as pre­ma­ture. He claimed that when Gov­ern­ment set the dis­as­ter re­lief grants in this year’s bud­get, it had al­lo­cat­ed funds for un­fore­seen nat­ur­al dis­as­ters. He claimed the mon­ey promised by Row­ley is in­tend­ed to but­tress the mon­ey that was al­ready al­lo­cat­ed pri­or to the floods.

“The Gov­ern­ment is not go­ing to say we hit $25 mil­lion, shut the doors, every­body go home and tough for those who did not get,” Young said.

He claimed that dur­ing less se­vere flood­ing in No­vem­ber last year, the Gov­ern­ment pledged $30 mil­lion in dis­as­ter re­lief and on­ly a small por­tion was nec­es­sary.

“You would be sur­prised by the low lev­el of le­git­i­mate re­quests and grants that were giv­en. It did not even touch any­thing near that,” Young said, as he not­ed that not every house­hold that was af­fect­ed would be el­i­gi­ble for all grants be­ing of­fered.

Young al­so sought to clar­i­fy Row­ley’s de­ci­sion to de­cline as­sis­tance of­fered by Cari­com lead­ers in the af­ter­math of the flood, as he claimed it was not an out­right re­fusal.

“At this stage, we don’t think that we re­quire for­eign as­sis­tance. We thanked them very much and told them that if we do need it, we will ask for it at that time,” Young said.

But he ad­mit­ted that the Gov­ern­ment was yet to do an as­sess­ment of to­tal costs of the flood­ing, which would al­so con­sid­er the grants be­ing as­sessed for vic­tims.

The re­lief grants in­clude a $15,000 grant for struc­tur­al re­pairs to hous­es, which will be processed by the Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (HDC) for its af­fect­ed units in Green­vale and Orop­une Gar­dens and by the Na­tion­al Com­mis­sion for Self Help for all oth­er res­i­dences.

The Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment and Fam­i­ly Ser­vices is al­so pro­cess­ing $10,000 grants for dam­aged elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances and fur­ni­ture and up to $20,000 in grants for elec­tri­cal and plumb­ing re­pairs to homes. Pri­ma­ry school stu­dents who lost all their school sup­plies in the flood will re­ceive $700, while sec­ondary school stu­dents would re­ceive $1,000.

Young said Gov­ern­ment had de­cid­ed to ease its as­sess­ment cri­te­ria for the grants con­sid­er­ing the ex­tent of the dis­as­ter.

“They are ap­ply­ing more com­mon sense to it and they are do­ing it for the cir­cum­stances,” Young said, as he ex­plained that the min­is­ter’s staff would be able to make the as­sess­ments even af­ter vic­tims dis­posed of their dam­aged items and be­gin re­pair work.

Asked whether Gov­ern­ment was con­sid­er­ing es­tab­lish­ing an in­ter­na­tion­al fund to col­lect do­na­tions from Trinida­di­ans liv­ing abroad and for­eign na­tion­als, Young said he would ad­vise against it un­til as­sess­ment on what re­sources are need­ed are com­plet­ed.

“I have said at this stage hold off on that, be­cause the lo­gis­ti­cal el­e­ment that can come along with that, we don’t need at this time. Quite frankly, we are try­ing to pre­vent the op­por­tu­ni­ty for cor­rup­tion to take place be­cause when you have this flood of mon­ey, it tends to go,” Young said.

How­ev­er, he did say the Gov­ern­ment ap­pre­ci­at­ed the con­tin­u­ing re­lief ef­forts fa­cil­i­tat­ed by lo­cal com­pa­nies.

“Right now the Gov­ern­ment is cop­ing with it but we are not sug­gest­ing for a mo­ment that the pri­vate sec­tor does not con­tin­ue to do the tremen­dous job they are do­ing,” he said.

A flood of relief- Citizens unite to help victims

The very best of the people of Trinidad had emerged this weekend, a heart-warming sight to say the least.

The flood that caused misery for thousands is being replaced by a flood of caring people all over the country who are rallying to provide for those hit hardest.

Citizens are opening their doors to the homeless, providing hot meals, donating food, beds, clothes, and coming into the flood-stricken areas in east, north and central Trinidad in trucks and boats to rescue trapped people and to help clean homes, power wash yards and provide hands-on help.

Navin Kalpoo of Kalpoo Tours used his powered-engine boat to get to stranded families yesterday.

Kalpoo said: “I was brought up in a culture and atmosphere to help others when they are in need. Seeing the devastation this flood caused and how many people affected, we could not simply sit back and look on, we had to act.

He said that they used boats on Saturday and yesterday they delivered donated items, specifically to those people in rural communities who could not access assistance before due to the high flood waters.

I think what other people are doing now and that seeing how many are offering to help, it’s like a ripple effect to kindness. No one asked for this disaster but it happened and we have to help and this is what is means to share that Trini spirit,” said Kalpoo.

Members of the Defence Force who embarked on rescue missions Friday night into Saturday were also seen giving aid as they assisted in the clean-up process at Greenvale La Horquetta on Sunday.

He said people willing to help should not wait for an invitation to do so, nor should they wait to act after observing what the Government is doing.

In some parts of central and south Trinidad, which was spared the worst of the bad weather and floods, there are organisations and groups gathering items for donation.

Presentation College in San Fernando is just one of those groups urging the public to donate items at the school.

According to teacher Andrew Benjamin, since Tropical Storm Bret, a Flood Relief Drive was established by pupils, staff and former pupils to provide items to those flood stricken victims.

Donations such as canned foods, beverages, mattresses, pillows, clothing, tarpaulins, first aid supplies and cleaning supplies can be donated.

The San Fernando JAMA Masjid is also welcoming citizens to drop off any relief items at its mosque located at #68 Mucurapo Street, San Fernando. The items will be sorted and delivered to the relevant relief agencies to assist flood victims.

An employee at Roopnarine Hardware Limited, Gopal Maharaj said one of the ways in which the company is helping people is through using two of its trucks to aid people trapped by floods.

Yesterday, Maharaj said more trucks are expected to be used as there are many people who are still trapped in their homes and are in need of being helped.

If your vehicle was damaged by the recent floods, Ace Automotive is offering to do the repairs free.

As a means of giving back to those affected by the floods, Anil Hosein, owner of Ace Automotive in Chaguanas said that given this was a national disaster, many people would have already incurred high cost of living and he wanted to help ease the burdens of those struggling by offering free mechanical and electrical works for vehicles, as this was his way of helping.

He said he may not have the financial capacity to help but through utilizing his trade as a mechanic and electrician he can help those in need.

“We can’t just look at what the politicians are doing and do nothing ourselves. We have to help. Today it is them but tomorrow it could be us. We cannot be a bunch of selfish people and I think the business people need to come out and show greater support.

I am offering my services and this is the first time I am doing it. Since Saturday I have received over 200 phone calls asking for my services. Now understand this, some of those calling have two and three vehicles and they can afford to pay to have this done, and those who I wish to help is someone who really struggling and only have one vehicle and have to use that one vehicle for everything. Someone like that is in need of assistance,” he said.

Another business owner who wished not to be named said supporting each other in these difficult times is what is needed.

He said despite the Government’s offer of $25 million for flood victims, immediate necessitates are needed for relief.

He said there has been an overwhelming support for flood victims and people have really come out in aid of helping through donating items, organizing meals and using their personal vehicles for rescuing others.

Corporate T&T have also been making generous donations to Flood Relief efforts.

Chair­man of the ANSA McAL Group of Com­pa­nies, Nor­man Sab­ga, an­nounced a one mil­lion dol­lar ini­tial do­na­tion in goods to the ar­eas af­fect­ed and more sup­port has al­so come through:

The Agos­ti­ni Group of Com­pa­nies

The Pres­tige Group of Com­pa­nies


Dairy Dairy

Col­in Sab­ga (Ice­land)

Fire­One Fire­works and Fine­line Dis­trib­u­tors.



Blue Wa­ters

Glob­al Brands (Piz­za Boys)

RBC donating $300,000