Keisha comforts her mother Alma Archargee, as she weeps for her husband Christopher Samuel, who died after their home was toppled during a landslide in Rancho Quemado, Palo Seco, yesterday.

[email protected]

Moments after she saw her husband being washed away in a landslide that also toppled their home yesterday, Alma Archargee clawed her way out of the debris in a desperate attempt to save him. She was too late.

Christopher Samuel, 41, a security officer of Travtech Security Limited, died as he waited for an ambulance at his Rancho Quemado, Palo Seco home.

The landslide was one of five which occurred following five hours of incessant rain in South Trinidad.

Speaking to Guardian Media after the ordeal, Archagee said Samuel got a job yesterday and despite the rains and floods, he decided to go.

“He went outside to go to bathe. I was on the landing on the step and then I heard a rumbling sound and heard the trees mashing down. It happened fast. When I looked up the hill I see it coming down and the water, trees, everything just washed him away,” Archagee recalled.

The house toppled over and while Archagee and her two children escaped, Samuel was not so lucky.

“He was under the rubble. The children climb out. I had to get out so I take a hammer and push out the floorboards and I hop outside,” she said.

She added, “For the longest while I asking the landlord to fix the house but he say he has no money because he doesn’t collect rent. All he collects is money for light bill.”

Shaun Boatswain, an Emergency Medical Technician, was the first to offer aid to Samuel.

Boatswain said, “At about 7.15 am, I was at my residence when I heard a loud roar and another neighbour came and told me a house fell. I saw the deceased on the ground. He had a broken right arm, lacerated forearm, spinal injuries and he was in and out of consciousness. I tried to assist him but the hill started to come down more.”

Samuel was eventually moved to a safe spot.

“He was cold and then I see his mouth twist up and he died,” Boatswain said.

Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein yesterday visited and extended condolences to Samuel’s family, saying, “I was aware of the death through the Disaster Management Unit. When I heard about it I said that I would come down immediately. I gave her the assurance that I contacted the Minister of Social Development and she will be getting the necessary help.”

Hosein said the corporation has been doing regular drainage maintenance, noting that it was the unusually heavy rains that caused the flooding and landslides.

MP for La Brea Stephen Mc Clashie also visited the area and said there were multiple landslides in the community.

“There is a major one along the SS Erin Road and in Buenos Ayres, an entire hill came down and created problems for transportation between Buenos Ayres, Point Fortin and Erin,” Mc Clashie said.

He explained that emergency crews were in place to clear the road but his concern was for the safety of the residents. He said emergency housing will be provided for the displaced family.

“We are working with the Siparia Regional Corporation to get backhoes to clear the road but for now it’s about assistance to these people in their hour of need,” he said.

But residents from the area said poor drainage was the cause of the devastation.

Shaun Phillip, of Rancho Quemado, said, “When we wake up this morning the water was already in the house. We tried to save what we could save, we can’t do anything more right now. The fridge, stove, bed and groceries are on the ground. It’s many years we making reports about the drainage. The river is like a drain. That drain is bigger than the river.”

Another resident, Shaquille Rawlins, said rain started falling at 3 am.

“This flooding is because of poor drainage, nothing else. We fed up beg. For years we speaking to the corporation and it is a set of run around and empty promises,” Rawlins said.

Meanwhile, along the M2 Ring Road, fields of produce were underwater. Flooding was also reported at Scott’s Road, Penal; Macaulay, Cedar Hill, Claxton Bay, several parts of Penal Rock Road, SS Erin Road, Debe, lower Barrackpore, Harmony Hall, Guaracara, Tabaquite Main Road and Reform Village, Gasparillo.