Now that Bret has blown over, many of us breathe a sigh of relief. We can take a deep breath as we crawl from the confines of our dry, safety zones to engage in the post mortem analysis of what to some was a storm in a teacup.
Others are not as fortunate as they remain waist deep in muddy waters with scattered creepy, crawly creatures; they remain breathless.
My post mortem begins with seeking to clarify what precisely constitutes a ‘natural disaster’. For too long this nation has been operating under the premise that “God is a Trini.”
While this may be humorous, many seem to hold this as some ordained truth. A young man someplace in Vega De Oropouche sitting on the trunk of a submerged car, smiling, says that most of us manage to maintain our sense of humour, despite adversities.
It is also an indication of our recklessness combined with our inability to understand the seriousness of the matter at hand.
Nonetheless, natural disasters must be understood as separate from man-made disasters. I hold and maintain that most of what we call ‘natural disasters’ in Trinidad—in particular, floods—are really man-made disasters.
Having been involved in assisting persons affected by floods in the past, the knee-jerk response from governmental agencies has been distributing food hampers to people whose kitchen appliances were still under water. I have also watched while the regiment distributed mattresses to ‘needy persons’ where persons would ‘need’ as many mattresses as one could carry.
This was practiced year-in year-out, with no accountability. I observed first-hand where an individual went around the corner with four mattresses on his head, announced to others unaware that ‘they giving out mattresses round the corner’ and everyone proceeded to collect as many as they could carry.
This arrangement has characterised the government’s response to ‘natural disasters’ for years on end. Meanwhile, the real issue is never addressed.
It is my analysis that a disaster cannot be ‘natural’ when persons willingly and knowingly build in flood-prone areas, then hold prayer vigils, annually, to escape floods. This is sanctioned irresponsibility of the highest order when we are known to have two seasons in a tropical climate: dry season and rainy season.
One may recall part of the Manzanilla road being washed out recently, along with a home on the beach. The owner all but demanded that the government rebuild her home. I am not a religious or even a spiritual person, but one of the good books speak to the man who built his house upon the sand.
To build in flood prone areas and then hope that one will not be flooded surpasses sheer ignorance. That the authorities—be they town and country, regional corporations, boroughs, et al—continue to deal with such on an annual basis is frightening and irresponsible to say the least.
The same people get flooded out and need assistance as part of an annual ritual. As long as either governmental agencies, NGOs and/or private citizens continue to ‘donate’ to these annual rituals, persons who claim victim status will come to believe that they are entitled to such assistance with each rainfall.
This nation has ‘farmers’ who have gotten wealthy from government subsidies by claiming to have lost millions in crops when they never planted anything; the evidence having been ‘washed away.’
One of the hallmarks of a nation acquiring ‘developed nation’ status demands that citizens move away from irresponsible behaviour.
The challenge is how do we get citizens to:
- stop believing that God is a Trini;
- understand that their actions have reactions, often with serious consequences;
- stop engaging in such reckless and irresponsible behaviour in the future.
Does the government have a responsibility to its citizens; and what precisely is that responsibility? Furthermore, where does government’s responsibility end and individual’s responsibility begin?
Dr Rowley spoke briefly, recently on the role of government. But, as citizens, we too have a responsibility—if only to ourselves and our families—to ensure their safety by not placing them in harm’s way.
I have noted several comments centered around poor ppl not having much of a choice; excusing them on the grounds that they have no place else to build; that somehow they lack choice. Having a distorted mind, I cannot help but wonder if these same people who are justifying what I described as “reckless” would be as willing to overlook crimes committed by young men living in hot spots on the grounds that they are poor and cannot find employment; that they lack similar opportunities as those whose living spaces are dry? After all, if poverty is the rationale being advanced to justify building million dollar homes in flood prone areas, surely one can be equally compassionate, as Father Harvey was, in excusing poor young men who use a firearms to relieve others of their properties or peddle illegal substances as real estate agents peddle backfilled lots.
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Sorry, you did hear.
Good thing that’s not a woman sitting there. You would hear from their spokes persons.
Not in full agreement. If this is the only land available to the poor then what?
Well that maybe the case in some areas but it is very short sighted and does not cover all cases. I live in El Socorro South, which is currently flooded out, parts of my home too. The last year or two has been far worse than the twenty years before. The land further down from our homes were developed with the last two years, for Industrial purposes. No additional drainage or road woks done to accommodate this, the river bank has some areas that slip and is only attended to at the time of flooding. The pumps are not working and the sluice gate is broken. So know your facts before you spout nonsense.
This is stupid. So everyone who was flooded out built in flood prone areas?
Hold up on that if the two others hit us we will account for the three felons who rob the priest. BTW God is no Trini
Wonder how much relief that would give, how long it would take to be disbursed and if the real victims would benefit.
Let’s hope it’s properly disbursed to actually needy people. A system should already be in place to ensure no misuse or misappropriation etc
Added to all of this is the ‘stink and dutty’ ways of Trinis.I wish those responsible for the mountains of filth suffer the consequences,but sadly this is not the case.I commiserate with those who are truly suffering because of nature’s forces.
Build in the sky…whats the problem?
There are solutions
Govt spemt hugh sims in the last 10 years to study the flood prone areas. But implementation is slow in comming
Vheck Drainage Division
Is Diego Maraval and East West Corridor flood prone too
Well said by him we are to nasty an scampish in this land , points to him its the DAMN WELL TRUTH , i myself have watched persons gain materials etc an not a damn thing happen to them even business owners who should not gain aid , i have taken back materials after visiting sites as well , or sent to deliver i made sure an ran my check an said no to those who claimed .
Sonetimes you do’nt tbink about the long term
Very superficial views without an in depth knowledge of why people build where they do …the effects of deforestation, littering the water ways, lack of regular cleaning of drains, dredging rivers etc. and while there will always be natural disasters one must always show empathy, compassion and be willing to lend a helping hand to those adversely affected. ..