by Vernon Khelawan
It would seem that Trinidad is making a concerted effort to turn around its thinking and bring to bear the Christian principles of life in this blessed country. And the turning point, it would seem, is the disastrous and widespread flooding which took place all over the country less than two weeks ago.
We have seen brotherly love, charity, kindness, caring and selflessness to an extent that we have rarely witnessed before in this country. Communities came together and worked tirelessly at helping the disadvantaged, the elderly and the infirm.
Nobody waited on the government agencies and entities, but got to work at helping each other. The floods had wreaked havoc in many towns and villages across the country.
So where government leadership was severely lacking, that slack was taken up by the people themselves. Kudos therefore to those who opened their homes, who offered meals and drinking water, and those kind souls who drove around offering care packages to the needy. What was great is this happened in so many communities.
We juxtapose this action with what was done by the government. No reassuring statements. No empathy shown. No real interest in the suffering masses as to how they were making out. Nothing!
But then what can you expect when the country’s leader would leave his country and thousands of flood-stricken victims and fly off to a one-day summit? Cannot his Foreign Minister take his place?
What leader would take five days to say something to these people devastated by swirling flood waters? What leader would leave his constituents who have lost their homes, animals, crops and many of their personal possessions? Our leader did all this to his Trinbagonians.
It is not strange behaviour from him. If we remember several week ago when Maraval suffered a similar fate with floods, he said nothing. This time flood waters came a-calling to Sangre Grande and Mayaro in the east; Aranguez and Tunapuna in the north; Caroni, Caparo and Charlieville in central Trinidad and almost the entire south. All because of four days of non-stop rains.
When the Prime Minister did emerge, he chose to visit Mayaro, and then only the least flooded areas. No words of empathy or commiseration, no talk about any sort of compensation, but only to condemn the complete lack of urgency by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management(ODPM). He shied away from visiting the areas which received the greatest damage.
Remember the two strangers who saved the lives of an entire family of five – father, pregnant mother and two children, whose car was washed away by the raging flood waters and they were stuck in a clump of bushes. That made the headlines for about two days never to be heard about since. These men deserve a national award. Not a politician spoke about them. I laud these two men.
But in spite of all the government’s missteps, the people showed that there are a lot of good people in Trinidad and Tobago and with this new-found attitude we can bring back this country, where race or ethnicity is not a problem; a country where we can live in relative peace and harmony, loving each other and doing the will of God.