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(SNO) — A family of four is now homeless after a tree destroyed their four-bedroom house in Cacao, Babonneau during the passage of Tropical Storm Kirk.
The near-tragic incident occurred between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursday, September 27 while Saint Lucia was under a “tropical storm warning”.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with St. Lucia News Online today (Oct. 4), Marvalene Alphonse, aged 39, who works at the Customs and Excise Department, recalled what took place that day when she was home with four other relatives.
Having just arrived home from work, Marvalene said she was downstairs, sitting on her bed and “topping up” her cell phone online. Her 7-year-old daughter was laying next to her, watching cartoon on a tablet computer.
As soon as the “credit went through” Marvalene recalled hearing a “loud noise like thunder, then everything went silent”. She looked up and saw the branches of a mango tree. Her mother, Catherine Alphonse, 60, was upstairs with Rajhon Alphonse, 14, and Zarius Alphonse, 12. However, Marvalene told St. Lucia News Online that she was unable to reach them immediately because the door leading upstairs was blocked.
“Everything came down on them,” she said.
Marvalene and her daughter were not injured but her nephew, Rajhon, was not so lucky. He sustained a blow to his head, leaving the left side of his face swollen. She said her mother currently complains of “body pains”. Zarius, who was only sleeping over because his father was working late that day, was not injured.
Neighbours came to their aid, but except for a few clothes, the family lost everything.
Marvalene was “shocked” by the incident. She said she was not expecting the mango tree, which was located on a “neighbour’s yard on the top of a hill” to fall on her house.
“The wind took it (the tree) from the root and send it on the house,” she said.
That house, which she helped her mother built on Crown Land, was totally destroyed, along with all the furniture and appliances. She said they have been living on the property for some 12 years.
The family is currently staying with Marvalene’s brother who lives next door with his cousin. This arrangement is temporary as the place is very small. Most of them are sleeping on the floor.
Rajhon, a student of the Vide Bouteille Secondary School, has been unable to attend school because he lost all his books and uniform in the incident.
Marvalene’s daughter, who attends Castries Anglican Primary, has been able to go to school but it has been financially stressful.
The Alphonse family is in dire need of assistance, but not much has been coming their way from official sources.
Marvalene told St. Lucia News Online that Babonneau political representative Ezechiel Joseph has not yet visited the family, which she finds strange. Joseph is also the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Co-operatives.
She however mentioned that several persons from a Babonneau “council or community centre” visited her yesterday (Oct. 3). She said the group conducted an interview, took photos, and promised to get back in touch with the family.
As for the elderly male neighbour whose yard produced the destructive mango tree, Marvalene said she is “not expecting anything” from him because he is “very poor” and lives alone.
Members of the public who are willing to assist the family are kindly asked to call Marvalene’s mother, Catherine, at (758) 719-1168.