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Disaster victims remembered

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The Marriaqua Government School this week paid tribute to five disaster victims, observing a week of activities at the school.

The activities, which began on Monday, culminate today, the date of the fifth anniversary of one of the community’s worst tragedies which left five pupils dead. {{more}}

During this week pupils and teachers and some residents heard addresses on topics such as Disaster, Road Safety, First Aid and Attitudes and Behaviour. The addresses, along with morning devotion, formed part of daily special assemblies.

Monday’s activity heard remarks by the school’s Principal, Elizabeth Walker and an address by National Disaster Preparedness Co-ordinator, Howie Prince.

Walker said there was no better way to remember the disaster of five years ago than to have the Disaster Preparedness Co-ordinator address the school. She told pupils that tragedy or disaster can strike in different ways, informing them of the fatal road accident which occurred just above the school in the wee hours of Monday.

Prince, in his address, told pupils and teachers that disaster is real and that what happened before could happen again.

Illustrating how terrible disasters could be, the National Disaster Preparedness Co-ordinator drew reference to the recent ghastly Grenada experience from Hurricane Ivan.

“Can you imagine walking around in your community and seeing six out of every ten houses without roofs or six out of every ten persons without a house to live”, he asked the pupils.

The National Disaster Preparedness Co-ordinator noted that the biggest problem which the Marriaqua Valley is likely to have is flooding. He advised pupils to take safe routes to and from school and to avoid shortcuts.

Today’s activity includes a candle light vigil scheduled for 6.00 p.m.

On Tuesday, officers from the Mesopotamia Police Station addressed the school on Road Safety, and on Wednesday Harvey Farrell from the Ministry of Health delivered an address on health.

The children who lost their lives were; Demani Cupid, 9; Dallison Hamlette, 10; Jason Gibson, 10; Zinniera Shallow, 5; and Kosanki Shallow, 7.

On the afternoon of October 1, 1999, the pupils were sheltering in a banana shed at an area called Farm when, during torrential downpour, a blockage to a gutter caused the water to burst its banks, sweeping the shed and children downstream. Their bodies were recovered by Coast Guard in the Peruvian Vale-Stubbs area.