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Acknowledge our suffering

Resident George Hurley.

Resident George Hurley.

An apology, some acknowledgement from Government about their suffering, and above all, the resiting of B’s Recycling Centre are among thing residents affected by the recent fire are asking.

Furthermore, some are still querying just who will foot their doctors’ bills and pay for cleaning the mess left by ash and smoke from their homes and other belongings following the March 25 blaze.

At the second town hall meeting last night at the Lester Vaughan Secondary School to plan a way forward held, residents made it clear they were not at all happy with the handling of the post-fire situation.

Far from being over, residents said despite the fact that fire was doused or rather buried, excavation since then had left them in a state of discomfort from breathing in ash and dust every day.

For the last week, said resident George Hurley, and ever since the fire, there has been excavation to remove metal from the burnt area, which had only exacerbated their problems. Hurley said clouds of dust and ash were being stirred up each time something was done at the burn site, which left them in a state of never fully settling.

Melissa Broome said she was angry that even now, three weeks since the fire there was still no apology or sympathy shown by the owners of the plant to those who were affected.

She complained too that beyond the absence of communication from the operators of the plant, the ministers responsible for health and the environment were also “suspiciously silent on the matter”, despite the fact that residents were still suffering health and environmental challenges.

“If you look at the house closest to the fire, the whole side of the house black, … and nobody has offered, ‘let me help you clean down de house’, ‘let’s put together some money and give them something to help buy bleach or anything’. Nothing to this point has been done and it says to me that they really do not care. As I said before it seems to me that the notion falls back that them in St. Thomas are bare country bucks…

“You have a community coming together pushing one issue, speaking about one issue and not a single representative [of Government]. It is impossible. I want answers; I want solutions. I live in St. Thomas for the vast majority of my life and I need to know what is going on, what is the next step. What is the way forward?

“The mere fact that no one is here to answer my questions, to address my concerns speaks for itself, disrespectful,” said the young woman.

Another youth, Justin Catlin said the events surrounding the fire showed to him that Barbados was full of “talkers”.

“We always want to criticise…, to delay things until it is too late. We are very last minute and we need to change our mindset, the way things are done and it has to start with Government… We have to stop talking, be more assertive, be more action-packed,” he said, urging the audience to stop simply talking about the issue and get up and do something about it.

MP Cynthia Forde, who facilitated the meetings for the last two weeks, said that up to this point, other than a public relations representative who she understood went to one family, there had been no interaction between the plant management and residents.

She said having extended an invitation to management, which was met disrespectfully, she was not surprised that no one from B’s made an attempt to come to the forum to discuss possible solutions and hear the complaints.

The company had seen it fit to take out full page ads in the press one of which could cost several thousand dollars to note its contribution to the society and to foreign exchange, said Forde, yet had not even offered to contribute anything to help clean the residences in the vicinity.

“[Those in] Bagatelle may be further away by three or four miles, but these people here they drink it, they breathe it, they sleep it, every day from the 25th of the fire and previous to that for more than six years and nobody as a Government official has sought to say you simple people of St Thomas, you satisfied people, you irate people, we have your concerns at heart and we are going to have dialogue with you in a simple meeting to be able to allay your fears that all will be well because we are going to look after your interest,” she stated. (LB)

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