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Not the same since Tomas

Anesta Henry

Not the same since Tomas

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ONE YEAR AFTER Tropical Storm Tomas ripped dozens of roofs off houses and buildings across the island, many residents are still not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel as far as repairs are concerned.
The weather system crept up on the island just after 2 a.m. last October 30, packing sustained winds up to 75 miles per hour which blew away rooftops, uprooted trees and left thousands of homes without electricity and water – in some parts of the island for the day, and in other parts for days.
When SUNDAY SUN teams travelled through the island this past week, speaking to some of the storm’s victims, examining damaged houses, churches and businesses, it was clear that Tomas’ lashes were still being felt by many.
The roof of 82-year-old Stella Phillips’ uninsured house in Collins, St Peter, was badly damaged. Though neighbourhood residents made an effort to replace it, the countless holes in it are a discomfort to the elderly woman.
She remembers the storm every time the rain falls. She is crying out for help. “The storm got a lot of holes in the roof now. When the rain fall, in here does get down dripping, soaking wet. All the bed and chairs does get wet.
“Because in here getting wet all the time, all the tiles rising up and the tiles does be cold.
“I don’t understand, when the thing happen, people pass through say that them coming to help, but nobody ain’t get here yet.”
The massive tent under the Christ Is The Answer Family Church in Little Battaleys, St Peter, was flattened by raging winds. The church has started building a permanent structure.
Assistant pastor John Griffith said that when more funds were raised, the process would be completed. But for now, the congregation is worshipping at the nearby Alexandra School and coping with the realities that accompany “relocation or dislocation”.
“The difficulty for us comes when we have to go and set up equipment before church starts and then we have to take it back down. But we are thankful and doing our best with what we have,” he explained.
Over in Chalky Mount, St Andrew, management of Highland Pottery are still struggling to recover from the losses of their gallery, workshop and “90 per cent of pottery, including machinery”.
“Recovering was very hard and we still haven’t recovered. A few weeks after we had to try and put back up this little building to try and get the business going again.
 “And right now, everything is done in one building. We haven’t gotten any assistance from anybody, as yet,” said Godivier, the wife of prominent potter Winston Jn Paul.
Meanwhile, Charles Welch, whose Newcastle, St John family house roof was blown off, is missing his “home, sweet home”.
Welch and his family of four were placed in a Christ Church apartment “by Government, and they are paying the rent and I am paying for the light and water”.
He added: “But I come off from work four years ago medically unfit and it is hard paying these bills.
[The] Urban [Development Commission] said that they will help to put back on my roof, but every time I call them, they say that they don’t have money. I just miss my home.”