Mavis Etienne: "Water was up to my throat … it reached Fanso up to his chest"
Maria Story #11: By Carlisle Jno Baptiste
Mavis and Alfanso "Fanso" Arden Etienne have been occupying two lots on River Bank in Roseau for the past 30 years.
One lot is being used as their dwelling house and the other is Fanso's Corner, a bar and game shop that specialises in rotisserie chicken and fish dishes.
On September 18, 2017, the married couple was at their dwelling house with their daughter awaiting Hurricane Maria.
"That was the worst night of our life," Mavis told the SUN.
She said they were not expecting to be flooded with so much water on the night of the hurricane.
"We almost drowned in our house," she said. "The river burst our door and the water was up to my throat while it reached Fanso up to his chest. The water current in the house was very strong so it made life difficult for us. Tree trunks and all kinds of debris had made its way in the house."
She continued: "We had a wardrobe at the back of the separation and my daughter and I were pinned under the wardrobe and Fanso was scared of coming to get us off since he would have had to climb on the wardrobe in an attempt to rescue us and it could have been disastrous for us.
"There was a Rasta guy around and since the door was open the water started to rescind and we asked him to use a torchlight he had as a signal flashing; he put it on and off to alert someone that we were in the house in distress and needed help.
"That worked and he was able to get someone to come with him to rescue us between 2:30-3am."
The Etienne's said that they have lost "everything."
"I am doing sewing and had three machines and all that gone in the water...no income. Thanks God for our daughter who is working; we have scraped every cent in our account to bring us to where we are now.
"Once I hear heavy rain I am out. No one knows how we are surviving. God spared our lives for a reason and we are thankful to Him for that. People from the ministry came to us and I have filled out several forms over and over and we have gotten no, no help.
"We are on the river bed so you know that it hasn't been easy for us. This is the worst that we have seen. We are helping ourselves but have nowhere to turn, I am traumatized."
Fanso said his Maria ordeal was extremely unpleasant.
"I had to jump on a stove in the kitchen to sit. Now, when the river came in and burst one of the separations in the house; it threw a press we had at the back of the separation on my wife and daughter. It was our intention to pass the hurricane in one room together but when the water burst the separation in the house everything was swimming in the water- stereo set, fridge, TV and all," Fanso said.
He said his house started flooding from about 7:30pm that night and his family went through that ordeal for the entire night.
"We have been living in that area for over 30 years and that is the worst we have seen. In fact during the passage of Tropical Storm Ericka the waters from the river reached our door steps. We lost everything that we had in the house and had to start all over again. People gave us clothes to put on us and we are very thankful to them…we had sand in the house way up and it took my daughter and son seven days to remove it," Fanso said.
"Then I went to my shop which is located nearby and it was a total disaster, the tools I use for shoe making all gone. We now have nowhere to start and in the six months since the hurricane we have done nothing.
"Once they give warnings if they say move at six I moving at five or way before that; I am not staying there again. Everybody making promises and nothing is coming through," he said.