Steady rainfall is both a blessing and a curse for the Noel family of South Oropouche.Their leaking, windowless plyboard house is situated on a small incline overlooking a WASA pumping station at Paltoo Trace, South Oropouche.
But even though the WASA station is so close to their home, Jillian Noel and her children do not get a drop of pipe-borne water from WASA. They depend on the rain and also on a truck borne water supply delivered to them by the Siparia Regional Corporation.
Speaking exclusively to Guardian Media, Noel said when rain falls, most of the house gets wet. The plyboard walls are rotted and the doors are unhinged. The louvres are missing and the plumbing is propped up using an old Carib case and a brick. The sofa is broken and even though most of the upholstery has been worn out, one member of the family sleeps on it.
Noel said, “You wouldn’t pray to be here when the rain starts to fall. Everything gets wet. I have to leave my bed and go to the other room where the grandchildren sleep. Or I have to come out in the living room,” she said.
Noel said life has been difficult even before COVID-19 but she was thankful that she was getting public assistance. This goes a long way in buying food. Her daughter Janelle Banfield works as a hairdresser doing braiding but since COVID-19 restrictions, Noel said Banfield has not worked.
Her eldest son is 17 and he attends the National Centre for Person With Disabilities.Noel said her other son is a student of San Fernando West Secondary School.
“My daughter contributes to buying food and other stuff when she is working but now she cannot get anything to do,” Noel added.
She said living in the house is like walking on eggshells.“We have to be careful where we put our feet because the floorboards are rotted. The grandchildren cannot play in the house,” she said.
Wiping away tears, Noel said her family could not practise good hygiene because of the lack of water.
“We cannot wash our hands or bathe as we should. We always have to limit water. We not comfortable here. If it wasn’t for the Corporation and the councillor, we would have not a drop of water,” she said.
Noel said she worked for several years as a security guard at WASA but had to leave her job after she developed complications with hypertension. Her legs are very swollen and painful.
“I have a blood clot in my leg and I was supposed to have a scan done but I had no money to do it. They put me on medicine and that was two years ago. I sometimes have no money to pay passage to go to the hospital,” she said.
She added that the blood clot has made working impossible and she had no choice but to survive on a grant from the government.
Noel said she was a seamstress and could sew curtains and draperies. She said her daughter does braids and they were hoping to get some assistance so they could rebuild their home.“We want a place where we won’t get wet when the rain falls. If we can get some materials, we will fix the house,” Noel said.
Councillor Doodnath Mayrhoo visited the family yesterday and provided two cases of water and a case of soft drink. Mayrhoo said he first became aware of the family’s plight while delivering water to them.Mayrhoo called on the Ministry of Social Development and Ministry of Public Utilities to assist the family. Anyone wanting to help can contact Noel at 794-2974.