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The week in madness
Water water everywhere. I have to step back just one day for proper examination of this week in madness. Last Saturday I got a call at 5.30 am from a friend who lives down the street from me. The message was hurried but clear: “It have water everywhere, the river in my house; come down.”
Diego Martin has always been a flood-prone area. In most homes indispensable items are, as a matter of course, stored at the highest level in the house. The only exception is the pets and when the water comes up, like us, they will be expected to call upon their own resources. As I walked into my friend’s house, fellow columnist and neighbour Dr David Bratt shouted over his cup of coffee, “Paolo, doh write about this eh, I am writing about it!” Fair enough; Dr Bratt was, after all, a victim himself.
I am fairly certain that the rest of the country only became aware of the scale of the disaster in the latter half of this week. The media coverage in the wake of the deluge was abysmal. In any other country you’d expect to see live reports on television from the areas hardest hit. It is reasonable to expect to see reporters on the ground in their boots going into people’s yards and interviewing victims. As is usually the case in this country, we had to wait until nightfall to get images of the devastation.
The radio stations, however, were quite different. There were interviews very early on that terrible Saturday morning with Minister of Works Emmanuel George. He gave a useful assessment of the zones of impact and imparted some hope that the cavalry would arrive in the shortest possible time.
This of course did not happen, and it was almost evening before our neighbourhood received the first and only visit from a fire truck. People in the disaster zone were their own aid workers. Neighbours pulled together to help those worst affected by the floods and eventually support from civic-minded citizens on the outside of ground zero began to come in.
You might not have known this because of the poor media coverage. Indeed, mud-slathered residents welcomed television detective Ian Alleyne into their crumbled communities. Through him the rest of the country got an intimate look at how terrible the situation was and is. Alleyne is a lot like chemotherapy—you must endure it because it can save your life but it makes you incredibly nauseous.
While residents of western Trinidad were slowly digging themselves out of the muck, others were celebrating the remarkable victory of Keshorn Walcott. For this the television stations would go live. While the flood-stricken were eagerly anticipating the business week to get their homes together, they were all invited to pause on their muddy sofas for a day to celebrate this glorious achievement with the rest of a dry nation.
A national holiday was declared almost on the day itself and the “bruk-it-dung” crew was invited to the airport to disrupt all operations at the transit hub. What about people meant to travel on that day? Well I could not put it better than Wayne Chance who gave his considered opinion on the radio, “Dah nutt’n gee dem ah flag and leh dem go one side!”
And from the napkin on which it was scrawled the night before, the nation was told of the gifts to be bestowed upon this young man for his Olympic gold. It just would not do to wait a few days to declare a holiday (if it was necessary at all). It had to be done immediately if citizens were to embrace the message that this was an achievement of the Government.
At last a crime plan
The man who insists he is not the Prime Minister, Jack Warner has finally unveiled the crime plan. Anyone who actually thinks this is a crime plan is an idiot. Money has never been an issue; the question has always been the proper allocation of resources and institutional failure. Warner’s approach is easier and was probably written on the back of the very same napkin used by Kamla Persad-Bissessar to announce Keshorn’s lotto:
• More than 300 police vehicles which officers can take home to not put oil in them and let the engines seize, or use them to pick up the chirren from school and de “outside ting” from the hair salon.
• More “eat-ah-food SRPs” to crowd the police stations with the other officers and not go on patrols or respond to reports from the public.
• Millions of dollars for the acquisition of technology that no one has any training to operate. (Haven’t we travelled this road already?)
This is just a column and I could never truly accommodate all of the crazy that happens in just one week in this country. But the madness begins anew tomorrow.
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