By Robertson Henry
A father of three who has lived through three floods at his Sandy Bay home, is ready to relocate.
Flick Hoyte told SEARCHLIGHT that he and his family have been witnesses to much flooding in recent times; 2013, 2016, and the most scary of them, the lahars which are among the hazards associated with the April 9-22 explosive eruptions of La Soufriere volcano.
He was one of several residents in the north-east Red Zone who were making preparations to return home, and had attended a meeting on Thursday August 19 at the Sandy Bay primary school.
At that meeting residents were updated by at least two government ministries and related agencies on the way forward.
Residents up to Owia on the windward end of the mainland , were given the all clear to return home and should have been out of shelters by August 23,except for those whose homes were in areas declared uninhabitable.
“Living there was not easy, and I have wanted to move for a long time, but things did not happen as fast as I wanted,” Hoyte told this publication.
“I got a piece of land and me and the wife was making plans to begin building a home but the volcano changed our plans,” he disclosed.
The parcel of land to which he referred is at London obtained from the government through the efforts of Parliamentary Representative for North Windward, Montgomery Daniel.
When pressed as to why he continued living on the edge of the river bed in Sandy Bay, even after the floods of 2013 and 2016, Hoyte said “after 2016 I realised we have to leave.”
“We cannot live there. Another disaster and we do not know. We got permission to move when the government was moving people from the bayside, and I think this time we have no choice but to move,” Hoyte emphasised.
He said that he has been living on the spot in Sandy Bay for about 10 years, and what he witnessed during passage of the December 24, 2013
trough, brought all kinds of terror with it.
He also recalled the sounds of huge rocks rolling down the hill sides, the roar of the flood waters and the fear in the eyes of his wife and child at the time. Somehow he said with a sigh, “GOD saved us.”
He continued to live at the vulnerable location at Sandy Bay despite the rising river beds and constant erosion when it rained.
It was not until the 2016 floods which resulted in massive destruction to houses in Sandy Bay that Hoyte and his wife came to the realisation that they could no longer continue living at that location.
“No one died but the boulders which rolled by my house”, he tapered off… “There is a house not far from mine that was mash up by rocks and water. When I see that happen I told my wife we must find somewhere else to live,” the father of three told Searchlight noting that “In those times we have to put the Almighty GOD”.
He recalled his children now aged 14,9 and 7 years screaming “Mommy! Mommy! Daddy! Daddy! Come and see,” as they witnessed firsthand the destructive forces of nature as huge boulders rolled past, water thundered down the river bed, and houses collapsed.
He told SEARCHLIGHT that in order to calm the terrified children, he and his wife would hold them, telling
them that what they are witnessing “is part of life and we must trust in GOD for protection.”
Hoyte shared that the past years have not been easy and the volcano made it worse but “People from the ministry told me that I will get some assistance. I will begin making plans to clear the piece of land, and see how the house we have now we can get to move it to London. I do not want my children and my wife to live there and anytime water can just take us away.”
He is also advising his fellow Sandy Bay residents, especially those who live “on the front-line like the rivers and the seawater” to consider relocating.
Construction work has already begun for 120 homes which the government is providing for several homeowners who lived in areas now declared uninhabitable in the Red Zone.