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"Some abatement is expected by this evening
Benjamin said the Met Office received no
flood reports yesterday but said if the rainfall
persisted, people living in flood-prone areas
needed to watch out and those in high areas
should look out for landslides.
Dr Stephen Ramroop, CEO of the ODPM, said
from as early as 4.45 am Christmas morning,
when he looked at the devastation in Dominica,
he began speaking with his counterparts in the
Ramroop, a director of the Caribbean Disaster
Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), said
things were in place in T&T in the event of any
National Security Minister Gary Griffith said
all agencies were fully operational but up to
yesterday there was nothing to indicate the sit-
uation here would be as severe as in the other
Griffith said his ministry was busy trying to
reach the governments of the affected countries
yesterday to offer assistance.
"We are offering our assistance with security
and to help co-ordinate support from other
countries," he said.
Gonsalves returns home
St Vincent Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves,
who had gone to Rome, Italy to meet Pope Fran-
cis and was spending Christmas in London, was
forced to cut short his visit and return home
as the death toll on the island reached seven
yesterday. Gonsalves is expected to return today.
According to CANA reports, up to yesterday
emergency rescue teams said they had recovered
seven bodies, including those of a two-year-
old baby boy and his 18-year-old sister.
Three others were missing and feared dead
from the heavy flooding. In St Lucia three were
reportedly killed and eight in Dominica. St Vin-
cent, Dominica and St Lucia were the hardest
hit countries. There were reports of widespread
damage to roads, buildings and bridges on the
Several people were trapped in their homes
and the ET Joshua Airport was closed because
St Lucia tragedy
St Lucia News Online yesterday reported that
a police officer was killed when a wall fell on
him while he was trying to help people caught
in the floods. There were also unconfirmed
reports of two other deaths.
In Dominica, officials said eight people died,
including an 18-year-old college student. One
man was reported missing.
News reports said torrential rains on Christmas
Eve "turned the stretch of road from Castle
Comfort to Roseau into a nightmare of mud,
dirty water, snarled traffic, nervous pedestrians
and flooded homes.
Reports said Dominica was crowded with hol-
Thursday, December 26, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
While many families celebrated Christ-
mas Day with gaiety it was quite the oppo-
site for oil spill-affected La Brea residents
as they marked a miserable holiday yes-
"How can we have a Christmas in these
conditions?" asked Charmaine Montano,
50, one of her grandchildren hugging her
leg as they stood outside her Coffee Beach,
La Brea home looking helplessly at their
Residents have been forced to endure
pungent fumes from an oil spill that washed
ashore at Queen s Beach on Wednesday.
Since then, more communities along the
south western peninsula have been affected
by separate oil spills washing ashore on their
beaches. Up to late yesterday, Petrotrin staff
and contractors were busy mopping up oil
spills at Fullarton, Granville and Coffee
Yesterday, Oneca Branker-Showers, 29,
who has been living at Coffee Beach for the
last ten years, summed up her Christmas
Day with one word: "miserable."
She said since the oil spill, more than a
week ago, she and her husband had not
slept properly and they were unhappy with
"Today (yesterday) is Christmas Day, it
supposed to be a happy day. We supposed
to be happy. But it have no Christmas here
for us. Usually on Christmas Day we would
cook nice things and my friends and family
would come over. They tell us we cannot
cook," she lamented.
For 76-year-old Errol Lee, Christmas
Day 2013 was "the worst I ever see in my
He said his ailing wife and bed-ridden
brother Alpheus Lee, who suffered a stroke,
were forced to breathe in the fumes from
the oil spill and there was nothing he could
do about it.
Lee said every year he looked forward to
Christmas, but this year it was just another
bad day in his village.
"I have one Christmas wish---for things
to go back the way they were before this
whole thing happen. They talking about
moving we to the (La Brea) community cen-
tre. I not in that," the elderly man said as
he looked at the oil-stained coastline while
standing on his front step.
He said he still had his ham, which he
would usually bake on Christmas Eve, tucked
away in his freezer.
"I cannot bake it. They tell us we cannot
have any open flames," Lee lamented.
Yesterday, clean-up operations were
somewhat scaled down. The beach area was
cordoned off with yellow caution tape and
security was heavy at the beachfront.
Large "restricted access" signs were posted
at the entrance to the fishing boat area as
workers continued to mop up oil from the
The workers also had to battle rough
waves and high tides to tie oil booms (bar-
riers) in the water to keep the oil from
returning to the sea.
Residents affected by the disaster are call-
ing for relocation not evacuation.
for oil spill victims
T&T offers assistance
to affected islands
A La Brea fisherman bails water out of his oil-stained boat that was moored on shore at Coffee Beach, La Brea yesterday. PHOTO: RISHI
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