Businessman Paul Green: "When I entered the supermarket, not even a box of matches was left"
Maria Story #7: By Carlisle Jno Baptiste
Paul Green has been in the supermarket and wholesale business for the past 34 years and although Hurricane Maria damaged his property on September 18, 2017, Green said it was "Hurricane Loot Us" that was most crippling.
"One of my nieces who passed the hurricane with us in Goodwill was the first to give me the news about what was taking place in my business place. She had gone to town that morning to take a look at what had happened," Green said. "On her return, she said 'Uncle Paul, they looting everywhere…they looting your business place'. I was shocked but was not able to move since I had a bad leg. I came to town three days after Hurricane Maria, and I was amazed that people were still looting".
That included various locations in Roseau as well as his store on Hanover Street that was flooded by the sea and the Roseau River.
"What amazed me even more is that police officers were around armed with guns looking on nonchalantly doing nothing at all, not trying to stop anybody, not making a single move," he said. "I saw them going inside the Muslim Store and mark you it was days after the Hurricane and the police was around and did nothing. I proceeded to Wall House and what I saw was just horrifying. The supermarket from the roller shutter door was damaged by the looters. It was clear to me that it was cut but either a pick axe or a very sharp object. Looking farther, we had a 40 foot and two 20 foot containers which was packed with chicken and Christmas hams and turkey and they were vandalized and broken into and stuffs were thrown all over the ground. When I entered the supermarket, not even a box of matches was left; they took everything from trolleys to computers and to further compound the matter they defecated in the place. On Hanover Street they cleared the place totally and also smashed counters and computers.
"I had a restaurant (at Wall House) which was not yet operational but had all the equipment with expensive type cutlery. In fact, I was told that some of my staff who worked at Wall House was in the area looting and telling people where things were like the drinks and cheese that we had in an air condition room. Our safe which was protected with iron bars was smashed. It would appear from what I saw that those people were well armed and prepared with their tools for the trade. They came ready to dismount, dismantle to smash anything in their way. They looted my property in Goodwill also. I had a warehouse next to Convent with flour but it was not looted so badly.
"From my estimation, the damage is well over two million dollars plus I have spent over fifty thousand dollars to clean and clear the places. I am preparing to the places to reopen but the process has been slow since we have to get materials which is a major problem. The river came down in the wholesale at Wall House depositing mud, stones trees and all kinds of debris; I have never seen that before. We had a forty-foot container with over 1,500 cases of garlic, it tossed that across the river.
"I have to bring in new freezers, checkout counters, and chillers, shelves etc. They were compromised not only by Hurricane Maria but by Hurricane Loot Us. We are operating from my home in Goodwill. I have never seen this looting before. The amount of young people …minister's kids, doctors, police and ex-police, as well as a cross section of society, looted. I just can't comprehend what they did and why. We are rebuilding better and stronger.
"We used to give a heck of a lot of sponsorship to churches and poor people and we don't make it public. We will continue to give to the churches and schools but for the others over the next five to ten years please don't come and ask me because you all have taken your share already in advance."