Woman falls into sewer sinkhole in Beetham Gardens

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Camerra Olliviere, 22, fell into the sinkhole in Beetham Gardens caused by a ruptured sewer line earlier this week. The hole has since been secured with fencing. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

A woman reportedly fell into the sewage sinkhole on Main Street in Beetham Gardens on Tuesday.

Residents of the area lowered a ladder into the hole to rescue Camerra Olliviere, 22, of Fifth Street, Beetham Gardens.

Speaking with the Newsday, Olliviere’s aunt, Cindy Olliviere, said her niece was walking along Main Street around 2am on Tuesday morning when she missed her step and fell into the sinkhole. She said residents nearby heard Olliviere’s cries for help and used a barricade from around the sinkhole as a ladder and lowered it into the hole for her niece to climb out.

The aunt said Olliviere is warded at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex at Mt Hope. She said after her niece was rescued from the sinkhole she began to bleed.

Asked about Olliviere’s condition, she said, “We still don’t know what’s going on or how she’s doing. I hope to hear something today.”

Soon after Olliviere was rescued, another Beetham Gardens resident is said to have fallen into the hole and had to be rescued in a similar manner.

Corporate communications manager at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), Daniel Plenty said, “The area with the sinkhole was previously cordoned off with removable barricades. When we received reports of incidents at the sinkhole a decision was made to further cordon off the area with a chain-link fence. WASA staff had the new barrier up and in place by mid-morning on Tuesday after the incidents were reported.”

A child walks past the stifling stench coming from one of several manholes at Beetham Gardens bursting with sewer water on Wednesday. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Resident Kesi Quow said her three-year-old niece had to be taken to hospital after coming into contact with the contaminated water gushing from a manhole at the top of their street. She said the toddler developed a skin rash that resembled scabies and was taken to the hospital, where a doctor prescribed antibiotics and a topical ointment.

Quow said Beetham residents have been enduring the smell and effects of the sewage for more than six months.

“I have been feeling sick since before Christmas. There are times the smell is so bad that my head and bones hurt. It’s not covid, because I’ve checked. It’s because of the sewer water they have running through our streets and taps.”

She said residents are often unable to cook or use their bathrooms, as pipeborne water is contaminated and comes out smelling as bad as the water flowing into their streets and yards.

Norma Greaves, a 68-year-old resident, had to lay down boards in her back yard to create a usable walkway. She said she agreed to let her neighbour cut a hole in a wall for water to run through a concrete drain in her yard. Greaves said he could not even walk into his house, so she did the neighbourly thing and allowed him to get some relief through her yard.

Greaves, who lives with four other family members on Sixth Street, has not been able to do laundry or cook since the sewer leak began. She said, “We can’t even wash clothes, wares, or bathe, cause it’s just sh–t water everywhere around here.”

Beetham Gardens resident Norma Greaves, 68, looks at sewer water entering her yard because of a ruptured sewer line that has affected many. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

The sinkhole was reportedly 15 feet in diameter and 25 feet deep in September. Since then it has continued to grow in size and depth. WASA began repairing the hole on September 2. The repair work has caused the hole to expand across the entire road, which remains impassable. Traffic is diverted to the Priority Bus Route from the Beetham Estate Government Primary School to the Beetham Community Centre.

The sinkhole was initially caused by the collapse of a major sewer under Main Street in August.

On Tuesday, WASA released a statement which said specialised concrete cylinders had arrived on site for the installation of three manholes in the area on Monday. The utility expects the repair works to the sewer to be completed by the end of January.