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Sunday 25 March 2018

Falling tree leaves 9 homeless

IT WAS divine intervention that the lives of members of two families were spared when a 100-year-old silk cotton tree came crashing down on their homes at Picton Road, Laventille, early yesterday morning.

Agatha James, 67, sustained injuries to her face and leg after she was pinned to her bed by one of the tree’s branches. She was in stable condition at Port-of-Spain General Hospital. Part of her roof was damaged by the falling tree. James’ daughter Deborah, said the family was asleep when at about 1.30 am they were awakened by a crashing noise. “I ran out from my room to go to my mother, but I couldn’t get in...it was blocked. All I heard from her was, ‘allyuh help meh please’. Daddy was not in the bedroom at the time. He likes to lie down on the ground for his back, so he was in another room,” Deborah said.

Neighbours later rescued James from the bedroom. “That was a really frightening situation, but thank God everybody is going to be alright,” Deborah said.

James’ neighbour, Samuel Callender said that although his home was completely destroyed, leaving his family of nine homeless, he is thankful and grateful no life was lost. “We were home on Monday evening, but then we left and went up the road by a family member because I noticed the tree had been cracking for a while. “The whole house gone. What you are seeing there was a whole upstairs and downstairs...just gone,” Callender said, pointing to a pile of splintered wood and smashed concrete. Callender was living in the house for 12 years.

He said that since 2010, many persons including his relatives had complained to the authorities about the large tree which as the years passed, became more of a menace owing to its rotted state. Member of Parliament for Laventille West Nileung Hypolite who was at the scene yesterday, said the danger posed by the tree was reported to the Port-of-Spain City Corporation, the Fire Services and the Forestry Division, but nothing was done.

“The corporation does not have the equipment to handle such a huge job and forestry indicated this was not their responsibility. Right now the corporation is trying to get the assistance of forestry and a private contractor to see how best they can remove the rubble and the rest of the tree,” Hypolite said.

Hypolite said the Callender family is trying to see if they could get assistance from the Land Settlement Agency (LSA) to get shelter. “We are trying to arrange some housing for them through the LSA’s three-month rental arrangement,” he said.


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