Claxton Bay 2021 landslip victims turn to prayer

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this September 2021 file photo, Roger Jacob captures a view of the rippling soil at Diamond Road, Claxton Bay, which caused one house to collapse, leaving five others on the brink.

September 15 marked exactly a year since a massive landslip rocked Diamond Road in Claxton Bay, and affected residents have planned a prayer and thanksgiving service on Saturday at the site of the disaster.

Giles Garcia said, “It is thanksgiving because we are alive. There were no deaths.

“We are trying to see if the Lord would help us, because the Government is not. We are seeking help from a higher power. We are also praying for the Government to be successful in whatever it intends to do, in all their trials, to help us.

“We hope the Government gives us the proper worth for the damage, because we are suffering.”

Last year, Garcia’s three-bedroom concrete house and its contents sank and slid downhill about 200 feet from its original location. It happened before dawn, but thnks to the cracking sounds he was able to alert his family and they escaped, avoiding severe injuries or even death.

“We are still seeing land movements,” Garcia said. At least five other houses are on the verge of collapse.

Saturday’s service is set for 3 pm at the landslip site. The residents have invited several people, including Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee, their local councillor, lawyers and government representatives.

The area is outside the boundary of the Coco Road quarry, owned by the Estate Management and Business Development Co Ltd.

Residents blame extensive quarrying for the erosion. The Garcias and five other families have sought legal advice from attorney Prakash Ramadhar and associates for compensation.

Days after Garcia’s house collapsed, Social Development and Family Services Minister Donna Cox met him and other affected residents at the site and offered them counselling and rental assistance grants.

Since then, Garcia said, he has received the equivalent of three months’ rent at $2,400 a month.

“I put in claims for three more months. I understand they were approved, but I have not received them as yet.”