SOME of the families transferred to their new residences in Oropune from Petit Valley and Dibe are grateful but still traumatised, as they think about the thousands in losses and their new lifestyle.
The homes of these families were destroyed in the flooding from heavy rains in northwest Trinidad on August 11. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and a team of officials visited the Diego Martin and Petit Valley areas last Saturday and declared a "disaster".
Natasha Rosales, a self-employed 29-year-old who did manicures and pedicures at her Ravine Road, Petit Valley, home, yesterday described the transition as "terrible".
"In every way possible, it's difficult right now. They (the Housing Development Corporation (HDC)) have paid three months rent and that is a comfort, then we have to foot it on our own. But after that what am I supposed to do?" she said, adding she was the sole income earner in her home.
In addition to her son Nicholas, a pupil of Petit Valley Boys RC who is set to do SEA next year, Natasha takes care of her mother Jennifer who suffers with heart, blood pressure problems and the early stages of glaucoma.
She also cares for her 31-year old sister Natalia who was diagnosed with cancer of the womb four years ago, a cancer which has now spread to her spine.
Natasha said her father died two years ago and had left the building at Ravine Road for their children which was converted into three fully-furnished apartment buildings. But the raging flood waters damaged their home irreparably last Saturday, leaving authorities to relocate them to Oropune and the family to salvage only a few appliances.
"I want them to give us some hope that we can return," Natasha said, adding that her neighbours returned home to find dead animals including iguanas inside and their home totally uninhabitable. She said the Diego Martin Regional Corporation had been informed of the problem with the river but the whole experience was a runaround from one department to another.
"I really want them to build a retaining wall but ...this could look like a permanent move," she said.
Her neighbour Karen Sergeant, a housewife who takes care of her 11-year old daughter Kyjuana who suffers with cerebral palsy, said: "It's tough. We went from one thing to something else. You live your life one way all the time and now you have to change. It's really tough. But at the end of the day you have to move on."
Sergeant said the water course travelled through the back of her house, undermining the structure and leading to its collapse.
"I don't know if or when we will return because the engineers have to come and assess the damage," she said, adding that she really wanted to return because her husband Dale who works at WASA is already paying a big mortgage on the five-bedroom, three and a half bath home.
"We just have three months' grace then we have to pay $800 a month. Well I spoke to Dr Amery Browne and they working on the problem (determining if the Sergeants could move back to their homes once again) from that end but I really don't know what will be done."
Fifty-six-year-old Kathleen Thomspon whose Dibe Road, Long Circular, St James home initially split in two during last November's floods said: "It's a big change, very different from where we were before last year."
Thompson's home was even more compromised after Saturday's rains as the water course totally undermined her structure and the condemned house became beyond unlivable.
"From since last November we were living in fear that the whole thing would completely collapse as we were waiting on HDC for a new home. And although MP Colm Imbert, councillor Susan Rodriguez and MP Marlene McDonald truly and really did go out of their way to help us. we never got the transfer until this last disaster," she said, stating that she and husband Finbar were just able to salvage a few items of appliances, clothing and furniture.
"Well, honestly speaking the whole mountain move, so I not blaming no government today for that," said Finbar," The only thing is for them to build proper drains and a proper embankment for the river so people up there won't suffer the same way as us. But I can't see no government between now and the next 100 years doing anything to help that situation, really"
Regional manager of the Ministry of Social Development, Wilhem Joseph, said he was at Oropune yesterday to get an itemised list of losses from the relocated individuals which would be passed on to head office to supply the new Oropune residents with new ones.
He said the Ministry could provide a $10,000 grant to displaced individuals as well as provide a $1,000 and $750 grant per student per household for secondary and primary school pupils respectively.
He said he was also there to provide some pyscho-social support.
"Many of these families here are very tramautised...You know what it is to come to a place and have nothing but a shell!? So it's just not a matter of getting a list of lost items but to listen to and share their experience and be guided accordingly," he concluded.