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Unity strengthened in Catholic communities after floods

By Lara Pickford-Gordon

Maracas Valley is among the many communities hard hit by the massive flooding which occurred throughout the country at the end of November but the community spirit was enlivened during this difficult period.

Parish Priest St Michael’s RC, Maracas Fr Mikhail Woodruffe O Carm said when the flooding happened a message was sent out via the parish’s WhatsApp and Facebook [November 26] “so that parishioners and others who follow us in the wider community can make contact with us if anyone was adversely affected, and we did have persons in the wider community.”

Damage occurred in Acono, La Seiva and Maracas. Fr Woodruffe said the parish was not just thinking of the Church members impacted “but anyone in the wider Maracas Valley”.

Sharing some of the experiences, he mentioned a parishioner marooned at home after the flood invaded their driveway and deposited slush; the bed and other possessions of another person were destroyed; and an elderly couple received help clearing their driveway.

“We also had one person from the community, a wall crashed into their house and we are continuing working toward getting assistance…trying to liaise with civil officials as well,” Fr Woodruffe said.

On the day of the flooding, parishioners were out checking on people. “There has been a very positive response from Church members in terms of people reaching out to assist, willing to donate items, to contribute monetarily.”

Up to when The Catholic News spoke to him on December 1, he was aware of five families touched by the flood, but he was very certain there were more. Residents have told him it was the first time they had seen such severe flooding, others said there was a similar episode 30-40 years ago.

Fr Woodruffe said, “Even those who’ve lived here a long time said it was the worst or they have not seen something like this for decades.”

Despite the problems caused by the flood, the mindset of some people has been positive. “I found a sense of resilience and hope and preached on that. It is quite reflective of Advent…one person did have this happen a few times when there were more minor flooding incidents, they did get lots of damage.” He credits

the strong community spirit in Maracas Valley that prompted neighbours to go out and check on and help each other.

Flooding in Penal

Migrants residing in Trinidad were among the flood victims. The St Dominic’s Parish Ministry for Migrants and Refugees (PMMR) Penal has received several requests for rental and food support.

Two families from Suchit Trace and Tulsa Trace, one comprising parents and their six children and another with three adults, are getting help. They were in critical need.

Daniel George, PMMR Coordinator said migrants were flooded out because they tend to reside in low-lying areas. Requests have come in for food, mattresses; more than 30 families asked for rental assistance.

George said migrants used mattresses because they were easy to pack when they had to move. He explained the flood was financially harsh on them. “They could not go to work. They live on daily pay, with no work for the last two weeks. There was no money for rent, food, to transfer to their families in Venezuela.” He added that they were now trying to go back to work.

Commenting how the migrants were facing the setback of flooding, George said, “they try and pick up the pieces and move on.”