Prince: Residents of Byera refused to move
November 26, 2004
Prince: Residents of Byera refused to move

Residents of Byera Flat, the area damaged November 17 by mudslides, had been urged by government authorities since 1979 to relocate.

They did not, and found themselves affected on September 7 this year by rising tides brought by Hurricane Ivan, and more recently by the life-threatening mudslides which damaged some houses. {{more}}

“As a matter of fact,” says co-ordinator of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) Howie Prince, “they were even given lands by the administration at the time.

“They were urged to relocate and are still being urged to relocate,” said Prince. He emphasised that the area is not safe because of the threat of mudslides on one side and the close proximity to the sea on the other.

He said that so far, one of the more seriously affected families, that of Minerva Grant, has been placed in a rented accommodation in Georgetown while the others remain at Byera Flat.

NEMO had not yet calculated the damage done by last week Wednesday’s mudslides but had already given persons material to aid in repairs. He said persons are still working on damage estimates, as NEMO will assist them as much as possible.

The Disaster Preparedness co-ordinator is advising persons to always be very cautious in how and where they build their homes, “Make sure the area is safe,” he said.

Meanwhile Jacintha Gonsalves, through whose bedroom window mud flew during the mudslide last week, said that her window was replaced by NEMO. Her father, Raymond Gonsalves, said that during the Milton Cato regime, they were told not to buy lands or build houses in this particular area. He said most of them were given lands but some like him, had already begun building and therefore saw it hard to move. Raymond added that during a visit from Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on Saturday, they were again urged to move.

Michael Woods, another affected resident, said he has already been given materials by NEMO to repair his home. Woods said he is not afraid of living there and would only move if given a house bearing every similarity to the one he built.

Woods’ house was one of two extensively damaged when the wall of mud came down. Minerva Grant’s was the other. The area is now even unstable, as the country is currently being pounded by heavy torrents of rain caused.