This past weekend was particularly distressing for us here in Antigua and Barbuda when news broke that a home, a business and two vehicles went in flames in Sea View Farm in the early hours of Saturday morning. What was even more heart-wrenching was that a young child among the family of six, could have lost her life, had it not been for a heroic rescue by a courageous uncle. We salute him for boldly jumping in to save the child, and we certainly wish him a speedy recovery from the burns that he suffered in the rescue effort. Seems, even in the midst of horrific tragedy, there are stories of heroism and selflessness. Even at what might appear to be our lowest, the good Lord still comes through for us in miraculous ways. We are thankful.
Of course, this is the time when we must rally around the family that lost everything save for the clothing on their backs. We believe that it’s at moments such as these that the very best in us will come to the fore. Not only should we be bearing them up in prayer, but let us donate articles of clothing, food supplies, linen and money to help them rise again like the phoenix from the ashes.
Not surprisingly, the parliamentary representative for the area, the Honourable Michael Browne weighed in, even as the embers were still smouldering, to excoriate the good men and women of our Fire Department and the APUA Water Unit.Browne, in an appearance on state media, made claims about the fire tenders not having water, and the hydrant being dry, and the firefighters having to go to a pond in Lightfoot to get water. Said the good MP, “We are happy that no lives were lost, but at the same time, there’s a certain amount of frustration of my fellow constituents, my fellow villagers, because an electrical fire started, and after the electrical fire, we call the fire tender in All Saints, and on arriving on the scene, it didn’t have any water. What compounded the problem even more was that the water was not running . . .” Not a drop of water in a whole village in the 21st century! Except that, only the part of the MP Browne’s story about no water in the village was true. (By the way, Michael Browne’s criticism about the lack of water is a poor reflection on his very own administration).
Which brings us to the debunking of MP Michael Brown’s inadvertent indictment of his own administration, more specifically, the APUA Water Unit and the Fire Department. According to our Fire Chief, the highly-respected, Elvis Weaver, the fire tenders did not arrive at the house fire without water. Assistant Commissioner Weaver was emphatic when he set the record straight, “There [were] no challenges with water; none whatsoever, and it’s very unfortunate. I know you may have heard something on [State media] that fire trucks arrived without water. I want to make it clear, absolutely clear that never would a fire truck arrive at the scene without water. That is impossible.” Fire Chief Weaver also rubbished the claim by MP Browne that the fire tender had to go to a pond in Lightfoot to get water. Weaver explained that when the tenders needed a refilling of water, they went to a hydrant in Belmont, and another near the Transit Board in Paynters. Said Weaver, “We don’t replenish our trucks with pond water . . . the trucks are inspected every morning to ensure that all the equipment is in place, and all the tanks are filled prior to attending to a fire.” So there!
We agree with MP Browne’s assertion that “There’s a certain amount of frustration . . .”. Think, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s, RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER, and the memorable line, “Water, water everywhere and all the boards did shrink / Water, water everywhere and nor any drop to drink.” Or meet the other needs of so many disillusioned villagers all over this blessed land of ours. This most basic commodity, which is necessary for life, never mind the millions of dollars which have already been spent, and which are supposed to be spent in the first quarter of this year, to alleviate this centuries-old vexing situation, eludes this administration.
That is the third story – the shameful lack of water in the village of Sea View Farm. Sigh! What can we say? No point in belabouring the sad reality and depressing everybody even further. The lack of a reliable water supply here in our fair State is an existential nightmare; we are all living that deprivation, and praying fervently that this administration will finally get a handle on this mess.
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