While it’s been a little more than a week since the heavy rains started in Trinidad, the damage is far from over. We at XX spent the better part of the week visiting the flood-affected areas, talking to men, women and children who have lost almost everything, and distributed good to those in need. But there’s so much more work to be done.
Over the last week, we’ve seen homes that are still mostly underwater. We’ve seen homes that had so much substantial damage that it’s almost cheaper to start over. We’ve seen homes that had visitors like caimans and snakes and cockroaches alike. We’ve seen homes where the floods have impacted their businesses. We’ve seen so much devastation, all at the hands of some rain. But now is the time that we see the true extent of what these heavy rains caused: we see the country coming together.
While we’re sad that it takes a disaster like this week’s floods to really bring our country together, we have to say it was empowering to see the masses in support of flood victims. The relief efforts were seen across all races, social groups and ages. For this one week, Trinidad and Tobago didn’t see colour, we didn’t see class, we didn’t see status, we didn’t see numbers in a bank account. We saw red, black and white, and we all sprang into action.
No matter how much or how little someone had to give, we saw that most people were opening up their pockets, their hearts, their arms to give as much as they could. But even though a week has passed, it’s not too late to help. In fact, as the (hypothetical) dust starts to settle, your help is needed now more than ever.
But if you find yourself at a loss of how to help flood victims, we’ve got your back. There are so many ways to aid in the relief efforts, and these are only four of them:
Now that the flood waters have receded, all that’s left in homes is lots and lots of damage. Beds, couches, chairs, televisions, cars – you name it, it’s likely damaged or worse, ruined for good. The best way you can help families affected by the flood is to help them with replacing or repairing some of their damaged goods. While they’ll never be able to replace every item instantly, and it’s certainly a long road ahead, every bit counts.
So, if you know you can get a mattress over to a family who just lost theirs, or if you’re able to donate clothes to someone who has little to none now, then you’ll be doing them a massive service.
Some items that are especially needed now are cleaning supplies, as families try to get their homes back to a semblance of normalcy, canned goods that won’t expire and household items and appliances to help rebuild what they’ve lost to the flood waters. And while some of these items might not even be expensive or out of reach, it’ll be one less expense weighing over the heads of flood victims, and one less thing they have to go out and get to return their life to what it once was.
DONATE YOUR TIME:
Beyond just dropping off canned goods or a bag of used clothes, what these families need is help. We know that cleaning up can be hard. I mean, it’s hard enough just spring cleaning our house every few months. So imagining the amount of work that it’ll take to return these houses (and if you’ve seen the damage, you’ll understand exactly what we mean) to a state of functionality, let alone back to some sort of normal, is difficult.
These families are looking for help. In fact, when we drove through the streets, families invited us into their homes, showing us the damage, the piles of items that have to dump and all of the ruin to their expensive items, like their cars and appliances. Whether you’re willing to help scrub the floors, or you’re able to lend services like power-washing and cleaning to these families, they’re accepting all kinds of help from all kinds of people, because this is what our country does.
Let’s be real: until their homes return to normal, getting a kitchen up and running is probably not the first thought on anyone’s mind. With the majority of families focusing on returning their living space to full functionality, cooking food is the last thing on their mind. And while it’s easy to say “oh, they’ll just order food or pick up fast food,” that gets expensive – fast, especially when you’re saving all of your money to return your life to some sort of normalcy.
An easy way to give back to the community is by donating cooked food or hot meals. It’s easy to do, and can even be cost-effective if you and all of your friends chip in. The meals don’t have to be fancy: it can be anything from a ham sandwich to pelau to rice and chicken, and you and your friends can make a fun day out of it. Once you’re doing making all of the meals, pack it into the car and head over to the devastated areas to offer families one by one, or reach out to regional corporations to see if they have a delivery or drop-off service themselves.
Think about it: we all have to eat, regardless of what’s happening around us. So by us making their access to food just that much easier, then we’ll be helping the victims of the flood in such a simple and easy way.
The biggest eye-opener for us when we visited the different areas was realizing that the majority of these houses were not suitable to live in, even temporarily. With mud and dirt caked up four or five feet in most houses, creatures coming out of nowhere, flood water having soaked everything and most houses having cut off electricity due to the water getting into sockets, it’s near impossible to live in any of these homes in this state.
Luckily, many schools, churches and recreation halls opened up as shelters, but there’s still not enough. Many flood victims so desperately need a clean and safe place to sleep, especially one that’ll allow them the good night’s rest needed to have energy to clean their homes each and every day. If you know people affected by the flood, and you’re willing to host people in your home, offer shelter to those in need. Even if it’s for a couple days, anything helps them get back on their feet.