Sophia Mc Queen points to part of her house that was destroyed by the hog plum tree. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)

Life has been no bed of roses for 39-year-old Sophia Mc Queen.  She goes to bed every night praying that rain would not fall in the crumbling, rotted, termite-riddled, rusted galvanized sheeted roof that precariously hangs over her head. 

Sophia, an asthmatic with a leaky heart valve in need of surgery, had her problems compounded last year.

On September 9th, heavy rains poured on her home at Rabindranath Trace, Kelly Village, Caroni. In a sudden flash, lightning struck a hog plum tree on the northern side of her ageing house and the tree collapsed, smashing and destroying a major part of the rotted roof. 

The property is owned by  her father, 66-year-old Claude Mc Queen of Malabar, who Sophia said left it for her children.  She shared the cramped flooded house with her daughter, 21-year-old  Ahalia Juman, and her autistic brother, 42-year-old Bernard Mc Queen. 

After the tree fell, the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation (TPRC) rushed to her assistance and removed parts of the tree and covered the damaged structure with a tarpaulin, and she applied for a grant from the Ministry of Social Development.  However, more than six months later, she has not received any grant from government and the tarpaulin has since rotted away.

Inside her house, parts of the roof are collapsing.  Sophia has set up plastic sheeting, a plastic barrel, a basin, tubing and PVC pipes in a couple of the rooms. Water is collected in the vessels and siphoned to the outside; the overflow falls on the floor and floods the house.

Sophia told Guardian Media that she has been getting a run-around from state agencies to get a grant. 

Her Parliamentary representative is Caroni East MP Dr Rishard Seecharan. He told us there was a hiccup with the grant and his office had been working with the authorities to get the funding for Sophia, but nothing has since materialized.

Dr Seecharan said the COVID-19 situation has worsened and slowed down the process. 

Meanwhile, Samuel Sankar, the local government councillor for Kelly Village/Warren on the TPRC, said the Corporation would visit Sophia Mc Queen when the  cloud of COVID-19 lifts, to determine what assistance they can render assist.

Sophia Mc Queen is also unemployed and depends on the kindness and charity of friends, villagers, and church members to make ends meet.

She has applied for public assistance and a conditional cash transfer card or food card, but has  not received any help.

Persons willing to assist Sophia Mc Queen can contact her at 324-8342.