Living in fear of the rain – L’Anse Mitan family spends eight days in collapsing house

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Curtis Redman, left, speaks to Newsday reporter Nicholas Maraj about damage to Upper L’Anse Mitan Road, Carenage home caused by a recent landslide in the area. – ROGER JACOB

Simone Mundy and her husband Curtis Redman’s home sits atop a tall, uneven flight of steps in L’Anse Mitan.

It was left with a gaping hole in the corner of the ground floor after a landslide last month claimed about eight square feet of the house’s exterior wall, floor and foundation. Fifteen feet of retaining wall also collapsed.

Mundy and Redman fear the house will collapse entirely with every shower of rain. Worse yet, the opening created by the landslide might invite intruders.

Thunderstorms on August 29 resulted in 66 landslides in the area that falls under the Diego Martin Regional Corporation. L’Anse Mitan, Carenage, a community of steep hills and towering staircases, suffered three. As well as Mundy and Redman’s house, another house and a church were affected and the integrity of a bridge was compromised.

Mundy and Redman bought the two-storey house from Mundy’s mother 30 years ago. Proper drainage was never constructed.

They were not at home when the landslip happened, but neighbours called to tell them of the disaster. Mundy was said to have fainted when she saw her home.

Since August 29, Mundy, Redman and their teenage daughter have had to remain there, as they said they had nowhere to go.

Redman said, “The next day, Tuesday, (National Commission for) Self Help people come up and tell we we can’t stay here.

“I done check how much nights we here. Tonight (Tuesday) would make it eight nights, and nothing has been done. I find the same Tuesday they had a right get a place for we and let we go from here. Everybody was basing on that.”

Since the partial collapse, Redman said councillor Akeliah Glasgow visited and spoke to his wife. She too said they should not continue staying there.

Redman’s wife told him the regional corporation “will pay for an apartment at the cost of 30-something thousand.”

He said, “I don’t mind as long as we get out of here,” but in the meantime: “If we get a tarpaulin self to cover the problem that could solve it, at least for now.”

Redman said since the landslide he had not heard from their MP, Dr Keith Rowley, and that his wife Mundy had visited his constituency office to no avail.

A closer view of the hole that has developed at the side of the home of Simone Mundy and Curtis Redman after a recent landslide at Upper L’Anse Mitan Road, Carenage. – ROGER JACOB

Adding to his stress, Redman says he is unable to send his daughter to school, “not with the kind of state we in.”

On Friday, Diego Martin corporation chairman Sigler Jack said, “They had over 66 landslides, which are being addressed as we speak. Those that are most threatening are being treated with first. It is being co-ordinated by the Disaster Management Unit and the field officers are out doing assessments. None are critical emergencies, but all are important.”

On Wednesday, Jack confirmed that Mundy’s home was “destroyed” and gave them a letter dated August 30 to the National Social Development Programme seeking assistance for Mundy through the rental assistance grant. It did not indicate the value of the grant.

Higher up the L’Anse Mitan hill, there was a landslip outside Lennox Gaskin’s home.

Speaking with Gaskin on Friday, he said, “The top there soft, it’s loose dirt. The next piece of rain is straight for the house.”

A bridge Gaskin built connecting his home to the main road has been undermined and may collapse in bad weather.

He did not say if the family had built any drainage themselves, but said the government “dig a drain when they wanted people to vote.”

He said the corporation stopped construction short of the uppermost property, his home. Water flows from behind it, so the drain should have been brought up higher.

The incomplete drain constantly clogs and part of it collapsed. Worse yet, since the landslide, “all the water line buss up.”

Before the drain was built, in the 30 years of the house’s existence, Gaskin said there had not been any landslides.

“Water just went its merry way. With the volume of water with that piece of rain the other day, water start to angle from all about,” collected in the clogged drain and the soil uphill became loose.

Councillor Glasgow told residents to send pictures of their problems, but Gaskin thinks she could take a walk.

Sigler Jack says, “Because of the immense volume of disaster, emergency meetings have been ongoing to determine how we are going to continue to address these landslides. Today (Friday) there was one that lasted three hours.”