‘It was horrific’

Jillian Alexander, 47; her daughter-in-law Rachel Etienne, 28, and grandson Rashaughn Alexander, three, were rescued by Alexander’s husband and other residents at about 2 pm. However, up to 6 pm, the three were not able to leave the house at LP 64, Upper Simeon Road, Petit Valley, as the main access route remained covered with mud, rocks and debris. Recounting the “horrific and frightening” incident yesterday, Alexander and Etienne said shortly after the heavy rains started at about 11 am, they realised something was wrong “as the water was coming heavier and heavier”.

In the midst of feeding her grandson, Alexander said just as she picked up her cup of coffee she heard “a loud explosion outside”. Looking to the front of the house where a river, which runs into the Diego Martin River, is located, Alexander said she saw water gushing into the yard and it began entering the house.

Snatching her grandson up, Alexander called to Etienne and the three rushed to higher ground as more than 10 feet of water, containing mud, slush, rocks and debris, gushed into the garage and lower level of the house, trapping the three.

Expressing her gratitude that no one was killed, Alexander blamed a nearby unfinished drainage project for yesterday’s horrifying incident. Unable to say who exactly started the project and when it began, she said “this disaster could have been prevented” if the work had been completed by the relevant authorities. It is believed that more than 60 persons were adversely affected by yesterday’s heavy rains, which began at about 11 am and finished at about 2 pm. Alexander’s husband, Anthony Leacock, told Sunday Newsday he was not at home at the time of the incident and was alerted by his wife about the situation at about 1 pm. Rushing home from Toco, Leacock said he was shocked when he saw what had happened.

Immediately seeking to ensure his family’s safety, the 52-year old climbed over the mounds of rocks and debris left behind by the receding waters as he called to neighbours and other residents for help.

Estimating that more than 20 feet of water “had come down”, Leacock said a retaining wall at the front of his house had prevented “damage that could have been worse”.

Heartened by the response of Diego Martin Central MP, Dr Amery Browne, and chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation, Anthony Sammy, who were among the first set of officials to arrive on the scene, Leacock said he was overwhelmed by the immediate offer of temporary housing for his family by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC). Browne told Sunday Newsday that HDC had responded immediately to his call for help for the family and an appointment had been set up for late yesterday for them to view a three-bedroom apartment at Oropune Gardens, Piarco.

Members of the Defence Force Engineering Battalion visited the scene yesterday to render assistance. Sunday Newsday understands that officials of the Ministry of Social Development will return to the area today to assess the damage caused and offer assistance to affected families.


"‘It was horrific’"

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