Catherine George’s home was destroyed during strong winds and heavy rain at Queen Street, La Brea.

Several residents in South Trinidad spent yesterday seeking help to repair their homes and trying to dry out their appliances and furniture in the aftermath of Thursday’s stormy weather.

In one of the hardest-hit areas, Queen Street, which is a situated along the La Brea coastline, a woman’s home was badly damaged.

Some of the roofs of other homes were also damaged and the owners’ appliances and furniture destroyed.

Catherine George, 52, was thankful that neither she nor her daughter and grandchildren, who are between four years and one month old, were at home.

“If I was home I could have died or get damaged, but thank God I wasn’t home and thank God my daughter and my daughter grandchildren were not home.”

George told Guardian Media that she was at her uncle’s house caring for him when she got the news. But George said nothing prepared her for the damage she saw when she got home.

“When I came down now, is because I see roof fly out and when I went inside I see everything mash-up, everything inside there, all my appliances, all my furniture everything wet.”

She said her daughter and grandchildren are staying with a relative while she sought refuge at the home of her spiritual mother. However, she pleaded, “I need a little help to rebuild my home. I don’t work anywhere.”

Esther James, a widow, recalled how she huddled in the house with her two children, ages 21 and 19, after their roof ripped off. During the ordeal, her eldest daughter received a few cuts and bruises.

“We experienced a kind of freak storm yesterday. We was having some weather during the course of the day earlier in the morning. All of a sudden we get a high wind and with that high wind, my whole roof came off. I was already hearing the high wind so I was hoping and praying that the roof will not go, but when that debris came down, my oldest daughter was injured. The first thing I do was to grab my last daughter and her (eldest daughter) and go to the back and keep ourselves safe from whatever else happen.”

When the place got calm, she said her neighbour came to their aid and went in search of her roof, which they found in the mangrove.

While they tacked it back on for her, James said it is not properly secured. James, a grocery packer who has been unemployed since the COVID-19 restrictions kicked in, is appealing for assistance to repair her home and to replace some of her destroyed appliances and furniture.

A T&TEC crew was there yesterday replacing a pole and repairing lines that were pulled down. Residents at Sum Sum Hill and Hermitage Road, Claxton Bay and Caratal Road and Bonne Aventure, Gasparillo, also suffered losses and damage to their homes, either by fallen trees or their roofs being entirely or partially blown off.

Krishna Manolal, 64, of Hermitage Road, recalled that he was at home with his wife, 27-year-old son and two grandchildren, ages five and ten, when a large branch fell on the roof, causing part of it to collapse.

“Up to now, I can’t catch myself to tell you the truth and I studying how to get help to fix it back,” Manolal said.

He said his grandchildren were traumatised and went to stay with their mother. A yellow tarpaulin was stretched across the top of Helen Singh’s house. Neither Singh nor her son was home when the roof of their home at Caratal Road, blew off. They are staying with a neighbour until they can repair their roof. Everything inside the home was also watersoaked.

When contacted yesterday, Couva/ Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation chairman Henry Awong said they got eight reports of property damage at Caratal Road, Claxton Bay; Chin Chin Road, Cunupia and Welcome South, as well as a house at Mundo Nuevo Road, Talparo, spilling down a landslip.

“Our disaster management unit responded as fast as required to the calls for assistance. In some areas, we were able to assist with the removal of trees that fell on roofs. We cleared all roadways where trees fell. We’re assisting with some roof repairs in some areas and yesterday, we had to provide temporary relief by means of providing a tarpaulin,” Awong said.

In the event of further bad weather, he said they are as prepared as they could be given the limited resources available.

Siparia Regional Corporation chairman Denish Sankarsingh said several houses were damaged. While the corporation has mobilised its resources to assist people, he has approached the ministry for more funding and to access materials and resources from other ministries. However, he said councillors and crews were on the ground giving people as much relief as possible.

Also contacted yesterday, Social Development Minister Donna Cox said as the first responders, the corporations will assess the damage and then refer it to her ministry, but noted they have not yet received any requests for assistance. However, she said the ministry has been liaising with the national disaster coordinator at the Local Government Ministry, who indicated his team was on the ground conducting assessments in San Juan/Laventille, Couva/Tabaquite, Tunapuna/Piarco and Sangre Grande Corporations.

“As soon as the assessment is completed they will refer any matters relevant to services from the Ministry of Social Development for follow up action,” Cox said.

She reminded the public of grants which can be accessed, including minor house repairs, replacement of lost or damaged household furniture and appliances and clothing grants.