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This bed and mattress and pieces of a concrete foundation are all that is left of Florestine Spring' house. (IWN Photo)
This bed and mattress and pieces of a concrete foundation are all that is left of Florestine Spring’ house. (IWN Photo)
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Fitz Hughes disaster victim Florestine Spring has denied telling assessors that she wants a house reconstructed at the spot where her house was washed away in the Christmas Eve trough system.

“My name was on the list for relocation,” Spring, a 39-year-old unemployed mother of six, told I-Witness News on Friday, adding that the land belongs to her mother, who has not given permission for a house to be rebuilt there.

For the past four months, Spring, her boyfriend, four of her children, and a grandchild, have been living in a building in Fitz Hughes that previously housed a village shop.

The building has not electricity or water connection.

(Scroll for video update on progress six months after the Christmas Eve disaster)

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The government says it will reconstruct a house for Spring and her family — who did not receive one of the 12 houses in her community handed over to mainly disaster victims earlier this month.

“I want to say to those persons who are going to have their houses rebuilt on site, don’t get too anxious,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said in Cumberland on Thursday, where 15 houses were handed over to disaster victims.

“The building train of HLDC (Housing and Land Development Corporation) is coming to build those onsite. Don’t worry,” he further said.

MP for North Leeward Roland “Patel” Matthews, an opposition lawmaker, highlighted spring’s situation on radio last week.He said she did not receive a house because she is a supporter of the New Democratic Party.

Spring told I-Witness News last week that officials from the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) had told her that she has to relocate because of the closeness of the river.

She also expressed feared that if a house is rebuilt at the location, it will be in danger of washing away again when hyro-electricity generation recommences at the nearby power plant and when the rains return.

Florestine Spring is seen with what remains of her two-bedroom house, in the background. (IWN image)
Florestine Spring is seen with what remains of her two-bedroom house, in the background. (IWN image)

But while Gonsalves said Spring told the assessor that she wanted a house rebuilt at the same location, she told I-Witness News on Friday that she never said that and that NEMO head, Howie Prince, had told her from the inception that she has to be relocated.

Spring said that Prince visited her on Monday and said a house can be rebuilt at the same location, if Spring so desires.

Gonsalves, speaking at Cumberland, suggested that Spring has two options.

“She had a board (wooden) house, but if she wants, there is a lot of land remaining in Fitz Hughes, if she wants me to start tomorrow morning to build back a board house there, I can go and build a board house for she. But I intend to build a wall house for she where she is.

“But if she want it now, and if she hearing me, just come up by me and I will give the instruction to build the two-bedroom board house. It would be better than what she has — with a wall floor and toilet and bath in it, with current (electricity), with the wiring done,” Gonsalves said.

“But if the woman, this comrade sister, want to wait, we will build a two-[bed]room wall house for she right where she has her house,” Gonsalves further stated.

But Spring questioned how a concrete house is to be constructed on land that she does not own, and at a location that NEMO has said is not suitable for a house.

Gonsalves further accused Matthews of politicising the issue when he first raised it on radio.

He said he told the lawmaker during a conversation on the sidelines of Parliament on Wednesday.

“I said you must stop it with politics about poor people. … I said I know you in opposition and you play your politics, but with poor people, you must stop it,” Gonsalves said of his conversation with Matthews.

Meanwhile Minister of Housing Montgomery Daniel also commented on the issue at the ceremony on Thursday.

“I want to say to her, that the information that is before me is that her house is down for reconstruction on site, so I am sure very soon, she will be relieved of her stress,” Daniel said.


3 replies on “Disaster victim Florestine Spring denies asking for house to be rebuilt on location”

  1. Hold on! Ralph asking the young woman to, “come by me”? Are you kidding Ralph? Most women are afraid to visit your office. That couch should be removed. Then here again we have this “COME TO PAPA” attitude again. This man is sick. The doctors need to give him a long rest period. No Vincentians should retire him for good.

  2. Peter Binose says:

    Building the house where the old one was located is another spite thing. Just look at what she was told by NEMO. The area where the old house was and is proposed for a rebuild is totally unsuitable for a house to be located there.

    I had a look and its obviously very floodplain, her previous house and all its contents was destroyed by the flood.

    Now Gonsalves has said if she has a block house built on the old original site, she can have that. Now we all know that a block house would be a superior build to a board house.
    So she can have a superior house built where it may well be destroyed again, with no date when such would be started or finished. Or she can have a board house built another location to be built right away. The board house will of course be inferior with a very limited structural life, because its wood and not cement.

    Now I believe Gonsalves wants her to choose the board house, because she can have it quickly and know when she can move in. The punishment is, the spite is, that all the others got a block and concrete house built on a new location, she has to be treated differently.

    Its just the PM playing Mr clever Dick with the ladies life. Why? I believe because she went to the NDP and newspapers, and for that she must be punished.

    So she can choose a brick house and wait forever, or an inferior board house, to be treated as inferior to the other house recipients.

    Its a disgrace. All of this money was donated by others, its not government money, its not ULP money. So why be spiteful with peoples donations.

    Those of you who donate, countries, funds, Mustique, the Diaspora, your donations are being used for spiteful purposes.

    Those of you in the Diaspora, are you watching carefully? This is a man that you suported or support. Time to tell the family to vote him out.

  3. Urlan Alexander says:

    This is a very interesting turn of events. The Head of NEMO told Ms Spring that she cannot rebuild on the same site where the house originally built. Ms Spring also agree with Mr Prince that she cannot rebuild the house on that site. Yet the PM and Dummery Daniel is saying that the house is down to be reconstructed on site. This information would have sound more believable coming from the PM and Daniel if it was said in Fitz Hughes at te forst handing over ceremony. No mention was made of Ms Spring at all by Ralph or Dummery. It is only when the area MP brought it up on his radio program and lambasted the gov’t for what is a clear act of victimisation that they scrambling now to avoid the negative publicity. Is there anyone who can play politics with poor people more than ralph?

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