Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The sad story of Arch Cot
Well, we've moved into day four of the Arch Cot, Brittons Hill tragedy. After praying that the Codrington family would be found alive, I'm now hoping that the bodies of the five members of the Codrington family will be recovered so that their family can have closure to this tragic event.
After spending several hours at Brittons Hill yesterday, I just wanted to make some observations and ask some questions:
1. Arch Cot really is a "ground zero". It's hard to reconcile the neat, landscaped neighbourhood that I sometimes pass on my way to work with what I saw yesterday. The eerie stillness of the empty homes closest to the caved-in apartment building contrasted with the noise of generators, excavators and officials giving orders.
On my way in, (I wasn't sure which way to go and ended up going through St. Cyprian's school yard) I passed through the driveway of a neighbouring home, stepped over a collapsed chain link fence and skirted the overturned racing car that was recovered from the rubble earlier in the week. That brought me directly opposite the shelf on which the apartment stood. Beyond was a sheer drop to the cavern below. I realised too that the house to the right of the cave-in (pictured above) was starting to show signs of structural damage as well.
2. There were so many Government ministers on the site I thought it was a Cabinet meeting. Dale Marshall was there, seemingly doing everything except operate the excavator, and five other Cabinet ministers were in attendance at different points during the night. PM Arthur must be so proud....
3. The trying and tragic circumstances brought out the good in a lot of people. I saw firemen, policemen, BDF soldiers, civil servants, DEO and CERO personnel, Roving Response teams, Almond Beach staff (provided food), crane operators, etc. working non-stop on the site. Of course there were a few cooks spoiling the broth but they were negligible.
4. Although fewer in number when compared to Sunday, there were still scores of persons pressed up to the barricades, watching the recovery effort. Since officials were expecting to recover the bodies last night, the crowd was watching attentively as the recovery teams were inserted and later lifted from the cavern. The body language and expressions of the BDF and fire personnel who comprised the rescue teams were scrutinised to see if they had encountered the bodies.
As I looked around the neighbourhood, the questions that came to me were: What's going to happen to these homes? Will residents be compensated? Who will compensate them? Did the builders of the homes have permission to build there? Who gave them the permission? I'm not even sure there are any immediate answers because this is a totally novel experience for us Bajans.
Well, first things first. Hopefully we'll find the victims of the cave-in, mourn their loss and then take it from there. In the meantime, please support Starcom Network's Brittons Hill Back on Your Feet Again Appeal. Starcom is collecting items for the residents displaced by the cave-in. These items include new toiletries, linens, non-perishable food items, stationery and school items. Donation barrels have been placed in the lobby of Starcom Network, River Road. I'll update you as I get more information.