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Hinds gets apology over flood dousing

Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Beetham residents receive $.3m in flood grants
Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds shares a light moment with Kadeon Gittens’ during the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services cheque distribution ceremony to Beetham Gardens flood victims at the Eulalie James Hall, Beetham Gardens, yesterday. PICTURE ABRAHAM DIAZ

Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds yesterday received an apology from Beetham Gardens residents over an incident last month in which he was doused with flood waters while visiting the community.

The apology came as some 49 residents received over $350,000 worth of aid during a disaster relief grant distribution ceremony at the Beetham Gardens Community Centre. The grants were given to residents who had lost household items such as stoves, refrigerators, washing machines and beds during the flooding. They received cheques to a maximum value of $10,000.

During an address to the residents on hand, Hinds commended them for their reaction following the incident in which he and councillor Akil Audain were doused with flood waters on August 14 while visiting the area following the disaster.

“I want to commend you the people of Beetham because on that day when we were here, and we got distracted by a sideshow, the focus was on your relief. And I saw you collaborating with each other, commiserating with each other,” Hinds said.

He once again defended the community following the negative backlash voiced by members of the public in the aftermath of the incident.

“All of the public commentary that went after that day, I was able to say to Trinidad and Tobago truthfully and confidently that of all the people I met on that day, most of them were like you, ordinary, decent well-meaning, suffering citizens and you rallied with each other and I was happy for the chance to rally with you.”

At that point, Marlene Veronica Lewis, a resident of 16th Street, where the incident took place, took the microphone and once again apologised to Hinds for the incident.

“I wanted them to know that people on 16th street, we are not on that, is a love on 16th street,” Lewis told the T&T Guardian after leaving the stage upon receipt of her cheque.

However, several residents at the event did not receive cheques yesterday as they had not been able to provide the necessary documentation to receive the grant. Some 80 residents had qualified for the grant but only 49 provided the required information prior to yesterday’s ceremony. Many in attendance went to the Ministry of Social Development officers to present their information.

“A number of persons present today would have got a phone call from the ministry to validate the spelling of their names and to get their ID card numbers. A lot of the information we would have received did not come with that information so we spent some extra time processing the grant,” said Vijay Gangapersad, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Social Development.

Gangapersad attended the event in place of Minister Cherrie Ann Crichlow-Cockburn, who was unable to attend.



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