Cabinet Approves $35M for Flood Relief

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Dr Keith Rowley addresses the media shortly after arriving from Mexico on Thursday, Oct 26, 2017.

Some 2,300 Households Affected: Dillon

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO — Cabinet has this week approved a $35 million relief fund
for citizens affected by severe flooding in South, Central and East Trinidad.

This announcement was made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at a press
conference in the VIP Lounge of the Piarco International Airport on his return from
the IV Caricom-Mexico Summit in Belize on Thursday.

Prior to his departure for Belize on Tuesday, the Prime Minister told the media, he
had asked Finance Minister Colm Imbert to deal with the issue of relief and it was
his understanding that the sum was approved by Cabinet.

Approximately 2,300 households were affected by the recent widespread flooding
across the country. The affected communities span from Sangre Grande to far-flung
Woodland, the Trinidad Guardian stated in a report on Thursday.

Rowley, making his announced, noted, however, that not all flood victims will be
compensated by the Government.

“Once they are qualified we will ensure that they get it. Some people expect more
assistance than they are entitled to. But if there are people with genuine complaints
I am sure public officers who are involved will ensure that such persons will not be
disadvantaged,” he was quoted by the Guardian as saying.

National Security Minister Edmund Dillon — who held a joint press conference with
Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, Minister of Rural Development and
Local Government Kazim Hosein, Minister of Social Development and Family
Services Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn and Agriculture Minister Clarence
Rambharat at the Parliament Building, Port-of-Spain — said having conducted
damage assessments from October 18 to Thursday, from the ministries’
assessments so far roughly “2,300 homes” were affected by the flood waters.

“Once those damage assessments are completed, then that report will be
transmitted to the various ministries to bring relief to those impacted,” he was
reported as saying.

Going forward, Dillon said the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management
(OPDM) will review its coordination and response to improve its effectiveness and
efficiency.

“We intend to review what has gone good, what did not work and what were the
gaps,” he was quoted by the Guardian as saying.

Dillon said ODPM relief officer Neville Wint will take charge of the unit until they get
a replacement, which will be soon.

Unable to say how many farms were destroyed by the recent floods, Rambharat
was reported as saying from Thursday the ministry will make a $12 million in
payments to 636 farmers whose farms were ravaged by Bret.

“Based on what I have seen so far from Namdevco, it is difficult to gauge at this
time in terms of a dollar figure in terms of the impact. It is difficult to gauge prices on
the wholesale and retail markets,” the Guardian quoted him as saying.
However, he said he expects the same numbers of farmers to be affected this time
around.

Sinanan said his ministry discovered there were a lot of breaches on some of the
major watercourses, especially the major rivers.

“This would have caused some of the significant flooding, especially down in deep
South.”

As the water subsided, Sinanan said he had been receiving reports of water
damage to several roadways which would have to be repaired. He admitted that a
lot of developers got approvals by the Town and Country Planning Division without
visiting the ministry’s drainage department.

“We want to make that mandatory.”

As for squatters and developers who have built over watercourses and box drains,
Sinanan said they will have to move.

Crichlow-Cockburn said her ministry will provide a $20,000 housing grant in addition
to $1,000 clothing grant for those affected. A school supply grant is also provided,
while a $10,000 grant is awarded to victims who lost basic household item, adding
they will try to do the assessments and hand out the grants in the shortest possible
time.

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