THE Housing Development Corporation (HDC) has been taken to court by more than 100 residents of the Greenvale Park housing project in La Horquetta, Arima.
They are seeking compensation for the corporation’s alleged negligence and breach of contract stemming from last year’s devastating floods.
The claim was filed at the High Court in Port of Spain on Tuesday by a team of attorneys from Trinity Law Chambers, on behalf of the 104 residents.
They are seeking compensation for losses and damage they suffered from the floods in October 2018, alleging the construction of the development was unauthorised and unlawful since documentary evidence showed the HDC was repeatedly warned before construction that the site had a propensity to flood and was not suitable for housing.
But in spite of this, the HDC proceeded with the project without necessary statutory approvals and failed to implement and maintain adequate and effective draining or flooding measures.
The claim stated the HDC constructed the development on the flood plains of the Caroni River and ignored repeated warnings from Town and Country Planning, the Environmental Management Authority and the drainage division of the Ministry of Works, among others.
“Flood waters inundated the development and the claimants’ housing units, which in some cases were submerged up to the rooftops. Further, sewage overflowed from the claimants’ toilets, sinks and bathroom pipes. The development was submerged for several days and the clean-up operation took the claimants several months,” the lawsuit stated.
‘Highly traumatic flooding event’
It went on to say the housing units were inundated with flood waters, covered with sludge, overflowed with sewage and were infested with vermin.
Personal belongings, including cars, were destroyed or swept away by raging flood waters, and residents had to find alternative accommodation at temporary shelters during clean-up operations and repairs that were still going on today.
“The flooding event itself was highly traumatic. Certain of the claimants were swept away by the flood waters, many of the claimants had to climb to higher grounds in fear for their lives and had to be rescued.
“One of the claimants is bedridden and had to be carried through the rough flood waters by fellow residents to ensure her safety.
“Many of the claimants are suffering from trauma, stress-related illness and anxiety, caused by both the flood event itself and having to live in the development which is unsafe and does not have adequate infrastructure to prevent further flooding,” the claim added.
The compensation being claimed by the residents covers damage to their homes, loss of personal belongings and repair costs; claims for personal injury, pain, suffering, trauma and distress; loss of enjoyment of their units; diminution in the market value of their homes; and special damages.
A date for the first hearing of the claim has not as yet been set.