Sucker Garden-senior roofless after Gonzalo

POSTED: 11/5/14 9:41 AM

St. Maarten— Seventy-six-year-old C.M of Sucker Garden is currently depending on the charity of friends for shelter since Gonzalo left her without a roof when it struck on October 13. Three weeks later, C.M says she has sort assistance from the powers that be to have this situation rectified and enable her to move back into her home but her efforts have not born fruits.

During the passing of Hurricane Gonzalo on October 13, C.M’s roof was blown off by the category 1 hurricane, leaving the house in which she lived in a state of disrepair and her personal belongings exposed to the elements. As a result of this, the seventy-six-year-old Suckergarden resident, who is originally from St. Lucia, was forced to take up residence at a friend’s home. To date, she has not received any aid and is still living at her friend’s home.

In the weeks following Gonzalo, C.M., who is unable to afford the costs to repair the roof herself, tried contacting government officials and local politicians for help; however, her phone calls went unanswered. “I called Minister Maurice Lake, but he didn’t answer… at his office, they told me he wasn’t in,” said the seventy-six-year-old hurricane victim. She also attempted to meet with UP party leader Theo Heyliger at his office; however, she went to his former office, only to be informed that his office had been moved to the Parliament building. In addition, she sought aid at the White Yellow Cross Foundation, where she was offered clothes and food.

C.M, who still works at the age of seventy-six, went to the labor office. “They took down the report, but up until now I haven’t heard anything from them.” Unable to afford to purchase the zinc needed to replace that which was blown away during the hurricane, she loaned money from a friend, which she received yesterday. With this money, she was able to buy roofing material and start the process of repairing the roof. Her son and his friend began the repairs yesterday. To put this into perspective, Hurricane Gonzalo passed over St. Maarten exactly 3 weeks ago. She pointed out that she only had to pay her son’s friend for labor costs, for which she said she was quite grateful, as she is unable to afford the expenses of hiring a construction company or local carpenters to do the job.

C.M. is not the owner of the house in which she lives; the seventy-six-year-old pays rent monthly. She explained that the arrangement she has with her landlord is that she would pay for any repairs done to the house, and the costs of those repairs would then be deducted from her rent. However, the costs to repair the roof are more than she can afford, which is why she was forced to loan money from her friend.

To make matters worse, her stove was destroyed during Gonzalo, and as a result of this, she is forced to buy food every day. In fact, following her interview with this newspaper, she was taken by a friend to get food. Her refrigerator is also non-operational. Currently there is no electricity at the rented house of C.M since Gebe is unable to restore the power while the house is still exposed to the elements, especially the rain. She does, however, have running water. Following the passing of Gonzalo, the island of St. Maarten received quite a bit of rainfall, which has caused water damage to her personal belongings and the interior of the house, on top of the damage already caused by the hurricane.

In addition to its roof, the house lacks the necessary facilities to comfortably accommodate someone of her age. She explained that the bathroom is separate from the house itself. “It’s unsuitable for showering,” she added. The bathroom has no lighting. At night, her only source of light when she leaves her house to make use of the bathroom comes from the nearby street lights and the light from her neighbor’s house. “There have been times when I’ve fallen down,” she disclosed. As a result of this, she has sustained minor injuries. A growing fear she has is that she will be robbed on her way or while she is using the bathroom: “There is also a fear in me because there are a lot of men in the area, and the yard isn’t fenced. I’m afraid they might hold me up and go in the house.”

C.M. is still in need of aid. She ended her interview with this newspaper, saying, “If there is any help I could get, I would appreciate it very much.”

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