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Home owner Rianne Singh stands outside her family’s home following torrential showers and strong winds that ripped off her roof in Fishing Pond, Sangre Grande.

Sangre Grande Regional Corporation chairman Anil Juteram is concerned that unplanned development that removed the forest cover in his region may be the reason so many homes were affected by Thursday night’s bad weather.

The region was badly battered as high winds ravaged across the country, damaging homes, downing trees and leaving many citizens without power.

“One thing I have to say is that a lot of the forestry has been cut to allow for land development and, maybe, I’m not certain, but it could have helped save some of these homes from being damaged,” Juteram said.

“We have a lot of land developers developing land within the Sangre Grande region. As a result of that, a lot of the forested areas cut down and there is even unplanned development.”

He added that all of that could have resulted in the wind effects being felt as far as Arima.

“Our disaster unit at the moment is starved due to COVID-19. A lot of the workers are currently in quarantine, so we had to use some other units from the Public Health department to assist the disaster unit,” he said, adding, “We went as far as Kent House to collect tarpaulin to give out to the areas and those affected.”

Member of Parliament for Toco/ Sangre Grande, Roger Monroe, told Guardian Media that he reached out to the National Self Help Commission CEO to assist the many affected.

“It was about 1 am that I got my first call regarding the region, with people who would have lost their roofs and trees falling on the roadways but so far, reports coming to me is that we have some 30 households which would have faced challenges from Matura to Matelot,” he said

In the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation, Carapo Councillor Derek Le Guerre, who is the chairman of the Disaster Unit, told Guardian Media crews were on the ground and they were collecting the necessary data.

“In terms of the disaster unit reporting, we have over 300 roofs that have been affected so far and in terms of roads closed, we have over 14 to 15 major roads affected and 35 minor roads that are currently being attended to in the Tunapuna Piarco Regional Corporation,” he explained.

In Fishing Pond, many roofs were damaged and in some instances were beyond repair.

Cumuto Manzanilla Member of Parliament, Dr Rai Ragbir, said it had been quite devasting for many of his constituents.

Noting that many houses have simple infrastructures, he said, “We are here with community volunteers and God’s willing we will put these people back on their feet. I have also brought some hampers which can at least help them overnight.

“To help the many homes, hardwares in the area are assisting with material and other supplies to assist the villagers.”

He added, “We are going house to house to assist and alleviate the suffering and that a needs assessment will be done along with the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation.”

Chief Executive Officer of the National Self Help Commission, Elroy Julien, who was also in the field, told Guardian Media that field officers were assessing the many people affected.

“What I have seen this morning (Friday), is that I can clearly see that the roofs of many of those homes were not properly strapped down and so on and would have been easily lifted off by the winds. So my advice to people – and even as we are giving them the grants to assist them in building back the roof and so on, we are going to ensure that the roofs are properly strapped so that next year this will not happen,” he said.