Surgical theatre equipment, which cost $300,000 to refurbish after the last flood, were lost in last Saturday's deluge which descended upon the Princess Elizabeth Centre in Woodbrook, says Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh. During a visit to the centre yesterday, Ramadharsingh told the media: "It has come almost like a thief in the night-the flash-flooding in north Trinidad. "No one can envisage the damage this time...We have had severe losses in operating room equipment that were refurbished after the last flood," he said. "Over $300,000 is under water...There has been destruction in almost every part of the facility."
Ramadharsingh says what hurts the most is that surgeries scheduled for tomorrow have had to be postponed because of the destruction of operating room equipment. "What we have decided is to meet with the board and management at 1 pm today at the Ministry, at which time we are hoping that we will have some sense of the figures in terms of assets that are damaged," he said. The minister said this was the fifth time the centre was flooded out but this time was the worst because it put the children who attend the school under stress. As part of the solution, Ramadharsingh said he wanted to put a committee together and invite representation from other ministries that would have an interest in resolving this problem.
The ministry has been providing counselling to some members of staff and people affected, as well as distributing hampers and food. Flooding began along Ariapita Avenue in Woodbrook shortly after 3 pm yesterday after heavy rainfall and reached about three feet high in and around the centre. Residents of the area said it was the first time they had experienced such heavy flooding in the area. Yesterday morning, CEPEP workers and members of the Fire Service were hosing down mud from the centre and assisting in clean up operations.
Official: Govt must take action now
Flood damage to the Princess Elizabeth Centre on Ariapita Avenue in Woodbrook is estimated to run into millions of dollars, an official at the Centre told the Guardian yesterday. Requesting anonymity, the source said: "The damage was extensive and it would most certainly run into millions of dollars. "We had to dump a lot of furnishings, beds, mattresses, office equipment, machinery," he said. "Surgical, physiotherapy and dental equipment were damaged. "There was water up to three feet in the kitchen and appliances were damaged. "When you come here and see the destruction, it brings tears to your eyes. "In 20 minutes the place floods out...It's an ongoing problem."
The source said the Ministry of Works visited the school "some time ago" and did a survey. He said two months ago, the Port-of-Spain City Corporation also visited the centre, but school officials had no further communication with them since. "Now that this has happened, it might quicken the pace...We hope for the best," the source said. "I would like Government intervention in this matter now....Come and do a survey and bring in all the technocrats." He suggested the complete demolition of the centre and the construction of a new facility. "This is prime land...The City Corporation has been very good to us by way of the lease," he said. "But we can't do anything on our own because it will cost some money."
Sr June Charles, a nurse at the centre, said there would be no classes at the school until further notice. "Fortunately there were only ten children here yesterday so we're moving them to higher ground to the adjacent building." (CKS)