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WATER WOES: Who feels it knows

TONI YARDE, [email protected]

WATER WOES: Who feels it knows

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Who feels it knows . . . Lord help me sustain these blows. – Buju Banton (1995)

A FEW ELDERLY PEOPLE walking slowly in the scorching sun with bottles of water; scores of families trekking up a steep, long hill with containers of water in hand; a man pushing a wheelbarrow of buckets filled with water; a line of cars parked by a standpipe; a line of cars parked outside the nearby pavilion.

No, these are not scenes from a movie I recently watched; this is reality. This is what I have witnessed in my neighbourhood in the two weeks we have been without water.

As I write this, all parts of my body are hurting. My back, triceps, biceps, quadriceps and all other “ceps” are hurting as I move around. I am tired mentally and physically . . . . The struggle is real and the plight of a waterless household is taking its toll. For the past 13 days, I have been hunting, catching and lifting water like crazy. I have to go up and down the long stairs that lead to my home.

We have had no running water since Sunday, September 25.

A garbage bag filled with bottles has become a permanent fixture. Like a handbag, each time I leave home I leave with a bag of bottles to be filled at work or wherever I venture. Saturday night – thanks to my neice Samiann Harper – I drove to St Lucy to get water from the standpipe in front of the Daryll Jordan School. When I got home it was mucky. I could use it only for the toilet. So I had to go out again in search of clear water. My usual source would have been up the hill in French Village by my bestie Ava Mounter, but hers was off too.

My daughter Toriann is also tired. She said, “Mummy, how much more of this do we gotta endure?” On Sunday morning she met an old lady who came from Rose Hill to the pavilion pipe. She could hardly walk, according to Toriann. They started to talk. The woman has no one and had to walk through the boiling sun with a bucket on her head and bottles in her hand. 

After telling the story Tori said: “Mum this is how it was in the ole time days? Man that mean Gran had it hard yuh . . . .”

There were nights when the people of Brevitor Hall North got water in the wee hours of the morning for a brief period. Not so for me. My workmate and friend Kendy Graham messaged: “Yarde, check your tap.” I did and there was nothing.

My neighbour Kathy-Ann Mullin and I joke and say we are the forgotten ones. We realised that to be true when our friend and neighbour Kay Craigg – who lives on the opposite side of the road – was fortunate to get some water for a brief period in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

She woke up to find her toilet tank full and outdoor water tank with water in it. Kathy messaged me 3:33 a.m. Thursday morning to say hers was barely on and to check mine. Again no such luck, so that makes me the forgotten ONE.

Absolutely, no water has come through my tap. I leave the toilet tank empty so I would know if it does when I am sleeping or not at home. I learnt the trick when we had water outages in February and around Christmas last year.

Routine, diet altered

Getting a water tank was not an option since for the greater part of my years living here water was not an issue. I agree with my supervisor Associate Managing Editor Eric Smith that having a tank should have been a prerequisite when we first moved here.

Needless to say a tank is now priority No.1 for me.

Running water is a must. There are only so many things you can do with a bottle, bucket or container of water. How are the disabled, sick, elderly or disadvantaged people faring? I shudder to think, as my entire life, routine and diet have been altered. Some nights I come home from a long hard day at work, and after water-hunting I just go to sleep hungry. The thought of using something that has to be washed and using up precious water turns me off.

Then there are times you are down to your last few bottles and you have to make a choice between a meal and flushing the toilet. Yes, these are the types of decisions you are forced to make daily.

I got so emotional when I read in the MIDWEEK NATION that the people in Benn Hill had a tanker dispatched to them Tuesday and it was to return later. You have to pass Mount Brevitor to get to Benn Hill.

As fate would have it I learnt on Wednesday that while I was dog tired and on the hunt for water a BWA tanker was busy filling a tank at a house just above me in Four Hill, St Peter. For the whole week I saw Barbados Water Authority (BWA) tankers filling up at Arch Hall fire station on my way to work but they never make it to Brevitor Hall South.

I am no longer angry. I am no longer upset. After the news I got last weekend I am hurt and defeated. I am convinced that with all the lotta long talk no one really cares.

The goodly people at the BWA sent ONE EMPTY water tanker last Saturday and said we would have to wait three to four days till another one (hopefully with water) comes by.

Others are worse off than us, a representative said. What is disheartening about this news it that it means they are no closer to solving the issue and that I should gird myself for more weeks or months of living like this.

I am sweating and so hot from lifting the water, that I can’t even enjoy a proper bath. It is not easy. It’s a daily struggle to say the least. It is hard, gruelling, tiresome, frustrating and costly too. I was forced to buy plastic cups, plates, forks, and spoons to dispose of after meals. I had to buy bottled water. I have purchased more bottles of Clorox than I can recall in order to keep the place sanitary.

I challenge the powers that be – in places that matter – to try living like this for just one day so they can fully understand and appreciate the plight of the “waterless”. After all, who feels it knows . . . .

Toni Yarde lives in Brevitor Hall, St Peter and is the Nation’s Operations Editor.