Freak storm damages several homes, utility poles at WCB

…Govt offers assistance to affected families

A freak storm between Friday night and Saturday morning damaged several houses in the Bath Settlement area, West Coast Berbice, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice).
Families were displaced during the incident which brought heavy rain and forced utility workers and firefighters to respond after power lines fell on fences and were sparking.
The storm started at about 22:30h on Friday, causing 17 houses at Plantation Hope and two at Experiment to be damaged.
Many were asleep at the time when the heavy winds coupled with rain ripped out zinc sheets from the roofs of some houses.
According to Melissa Singh of Plantation Hope, there was a loud sound while she was on her way to the upper flat of the building.
“My husband and my three kids were in the bedroom and the whole roof blow out the rain started coming in the house – the whole house. The beds were getting wet. All of the zinc from both sides left and right fly away. Everything that was upstairs was destroyed and the water start to pour downstairs as well. We had to go by our neighbour for rescue,” Singh disclosed to this publication.
Meanwhile, her neighbour Rusha Samaroo in recounting her experience said she closed her windows when the rain began. By the time she got back to her bed there was heavy wind coupled with lightning as the zinc sheets on her house started to disappear.
“My husband told me to be quiet but I told him that I am getting wet on the bed… We run outside of the bedroom and come downstairs. Instead of I calling my neighbour to tell them what happening to us – thinking that he is coming to rescue us, he is coming to tell us what happen to him. He tell us that his whole roof fly away.”
Robert Wardat of Hope Housing Scheme believes that the storm hit at about 23:00h. he said there was rain and suddenly there was a very strong wind.
“I heard something like a bomb explode and then the rain start to pour in on me so it tried to get the thing out of the room and I left everything like that until the morning.”
Abdool Yakub said he did not suffer damage despite his house falling. He explained that he had just come off of the phone when the house fell. According to the labourer, who lives alone at Hope, he lost most of his dishes, which were broken when his house fell.
One house was completely destroyed and residents say the occupant was taken away by a relative on Saturday morning.
Veman Permaul-Sawh explained that the zinc sheets from half of his house were ripped off by the strong wind. By the time he realised what was happening and got out of his bed, he was standing in water.
According to Permaul-Sawh, he also lost the zinc sheets from a shed which extends from his house.
According to Nakita Bissoondat, during the storm, the roof of her house was removed resulting in rainwater accumulating in the building. The family used buckets to bail the water out but it was all in vain as there was more water entering than they were able to bail.
Angela Jagan of Experiment said after the entire roof of their house was blown off and water started entering, she saw her son’s shoes floating around in the house.
“We had to break concrete and bore a hole in the wall so that the water can drain out.”

Meanwhile, Regional officials visited the affected persons to assess the situation.
Public Service Minister Sonia Parag has reassured that assistance will be provided to the affected residents through the Office of the Prime Minister among other agencies.
She said that most persons are quite shocked over the extent of the damages, especially since a similar freak storm was experienced last year but did not cause as much destruction as it did this time.
Nevertheless, the Public Service Minister reassured that the relevant authorities, including the Office of the Prime Minister, which has responsibility for natural disaster response, have been alerted and will be looking into the issue.
Teams from the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) and the Human Services Ministry were deployed to the area to make assessments in terms of the level of assistance that would be needed by the affected households.
“Those who might be displaced will be assisted by the Ministry of Human Services in terms of finding shelter. In the meanwhile, the region is also providing zinc sheets to those who need it,” Parag told reporters on Saturday afternoon. (Andrew Carmichael)