A family of three is desperately attempting to pick up the pieces after their house was destroyed by mother nature in the middle of the night leaving them scared in the moments after.
Twenty-four hours later, they feel helpless as they desperately search for a place to sleep, shower and prepare a hot meal.
Sixty-eight-year-old Oswald Wilkinson, his daughter Cherryann and grand-daughter, Tahmya Wilkinson were all asleep around 11:30 on Tuesday night when they heard a loud crash and suddenly felt their home in St Bernard’s Village, St Joseph caving in on them.
It was only sometime later, they realised an approximately 100ft palm tree had come crashing into their house practically destroying the wooden structure, the furniture and appliances inside, trapping them.
In the dark, Wilkinson had to pry his way out of his bedroom and attempt to rescue his daughter and granddaughter.
“I heard the loud commotion and my daughter was crying ‘Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Are you all right?’ and I said yes,” he recounted.
“I had to lift my granddaughter through the window and my daughter, who weighs over one hundred and fifty pounds. I have in a pacemaker and the pressure has hurt my chest.”
Meanwhile, Oswald’s daughter Cherryann explained she was awakened by the ‘big bang’ and thought a vehicle had crashed outside. However when she opened her bedroom door and attempted to step into the hallway, she realised the floor had been crushed and she would be stepping into her cellar meters lower than she had anticipated.
“Honestly I cried for about an hour straight. My daughter started hyperventilating because she is an asthmatic and I had to call her dad for her. I could not believe it,” she told Barbados TODAY.
“This house is my dad’s hard work and he is a pensioner, so it will be very hard for him to get back on his feet. Insurance is expensive, so we couldn’t insure the house. I am a full-time student, so I don’t work. My daughter is 14 and she is at The Lodge School, so basically the only income is coming through my dad. So it’s hard,” she explained.
Miraculously no one was injured in the incident although the fallen tree was much bigger than the house and Wilkinson, a retired environmental officer said he believed an angel was in the house with his family.
Now, with the frightening experience behind them, the family’s next concern has been finding a place to rest their heads.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the family had spoken to an official from the Ministry of Housing and Lands to find out whether they could be relocated, but received no definitive answer.
“I just don’t know. I told the lady there is no other place to go tonight and she said she couldn’t bring any keys and give me. We can’t stay in here… but she says she has to go to her boss, but when? Will it be when the cows come home?” he asked in despair.
“I have been standing on my feet from 11:30 last night and have good neighbours who gave me something to eat but that’s it. I am hoping by the will of the Lord the Ministry will put us up because this is an emergency. We have nowhere to go tonight. We have to bathe and we have to get something to eat.”
Meanwhile, Cherryann, a student at UWI Cave Hill campus told Barbados TODAY that her laptop had been crushed in the freak accident just two weeks ahead of exams. She feared she would be unable to continue her studies efficiently.
“Right now I can’t go to school because there is nothing to come back to. I can’t shower; I can’t get any hot meals or any tea. I have to rely on people’s kindness so I am hoping that National Housing comes through for us,” she said.
Police officers have been checking in with the family ever since the incident occurred and a team from the Ministry of Transport reportedly visited the area sometime yesterday to remove some parts of the tree from inside of the house. Neighbours were also helping to move the smaller portions of the tree still left.
Nevertheless, at least four massive trees identical to the one which fell on Thursday night still stand towering over the houses in the rural village.