TWO weeks after their homes were destroyed by raging floodwaters, residents of the Central Diego Martin Community Centre are worried they will end up on the streets tomorrow.
"There are reports that they intend to shut down this shelter on Friday, and I am vexed because I have nowhere to go after this," says Rachel Charles.
"Where we will go; I know I have no house and nobody to go by, so tell me, where I going with my three children," asked the 28-year-old single mother of three.
Charles is one of more than a dozen single parents residing at the shelter who stand to be homeless if the Diego Martin Regional Corporation goes through with plans to close down the shelter, which was designated by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar following the floods.
"This is the only shelter open to people; the rest of them close down or not doing anything to help poor people, Charles said.
In addition to their worries, the residents and volunteers are alarmed by the increasing acts of intimidation meted out to them by employees of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation through their "bullying tactics".
In fact, while the Express was interviewing the manager of the shelter, Garnet Moe, a man dressed in a regional corporation T-shirt walked into the centre around 4 p.m. and started looking around. He was accompanied by anoth-er person dressed in a black and white pinstripe shirt.
A security officer stationed at the facility politely asked the gentlemen if he could help, but that's when the man in the T-shirt began to react.
Security officer: "Sir, who you come to?"
Man in T-shirt: "Man, go so, eh; you know what I doing, so why you don't go and hush your mouth."
Pointing to the manager of the shelter, Garnet Moe, who was sitting next to this reporter, the security officer said: "This is Mr Moe; he can help you."
Man in T-shirt: "Listen, I not talking to you; why you here?"
At that point, an argument between the security officer and the unidentified man ensued. They then walked outside and continued to argue until the photographer began taking pictures.
The unidentified man shouted, "Man, don't take no picture of me," and walked away, getting into a white van with the Diego Martin Regional Corporation's logo on it.
"You see; this is what we were talking about; this is the kind of thing we have been experiencing for the past few days, and they think that this is right," said one member of the Red Cross stationed at the facility.
The official, who asked to be identified as Mrs AB, said she was present on Tuesday when the chairman of the corporation, Anthony Sammy, came to the centre and threatened to shut it down.
"I hear that man say that, and he telling the papers is a lie, but he is lying," she said.
Expressing his disappointment at the behaviour of the unidentified man in the regional corporation T-shirt, Moe said he does not understand why the Corporation "or anybody would stoop to this level".
"There are reports stating that the Corporation intends to shut down the centre on Friday…and the humanitarian in me is wondering what is wrong with these people. You have old people and young children in this place; some of them, this is the only place they can call home, and you want to put them out on the street."
"But I want to tell them go ahead and shut down the centre; it will be more symbolic than actual," adding, "If they shut the shelter down, the doors still stay open."
"All they have the right to do is send home the members of the Red Cross and stop whatever assistance they were giving to you. The 12-member executive in charge of the centre will decide whether or not the people can stay," he said.
When contacted for a comment on the matter, Sammy said he did not know where these reports were coming from.
"The decision to close any shelter is mine, and I have not made any decision to close any shelter. This is a caring Government, this is a caring Corporation, and whatever the people need to live properly, we will give them," he said.
Sammy however maintained he is unhappy with Moe's continuous decision to hold events at the facility although it has been declared a shelter.
"When the centre was designated a shelter and I was named incident commander, that meant I commandeered the centre, which means I am in charge, but Moe continues to violate the rules by holding these events," he said.
In fact, when the Express visited the facility yesterday, there was a cake decorating graduation taking place in the hall upstairs.
"But to reiterate the issue, there is no intention to close down the shelter, and I do not know about any acts of intimidation; all this is a tactic by Moe to frighten those already distressed people."
"If Mr Moe was to do what I asked him to do, which is leave the premises, everything will go smoothly…. Last year when there was a shelter, that was no problem; only this year when there is a Mr Moe there, is problems," he said.