Prime Minister, the Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar
August 12, 2012:
Ladies and Gentlemen
To paraphrase, over the weekend in Trinidad and Tobago, we experienced the best of times and the worst of times. As I reported yesterday a deluge of four inches of rainfall in just over two hours produced a level of flooding unlike anything ever experienced before causing loss of two lives and millions of dollars in damage to property.
I renew my expression if sympathy for those who lost their loved ones and others who lost their homes and material possessions.
It was indeed one of the worst times. But the level of professionalism and quick reaction by our First Reaction Response team ensured that the situation was not nearly as bad as it could have been. Within minutes, the ODPM the Ministry of National security triggered its emergency response procedure activating various Ministries and organisations into a multi-faceted and integrated unit that began immediate clean up, rescue and evacuation procedures.
I have just completed a second tour of several areas and while the situation is vastly improved from yesterday so many citizens in the north of the island, particularly Diego Martin have so much to do by way of cleaning up and renovations. Several Ministries are being allowed to access Emergency Funding to deal with the situation at hand and I have instructed the Ministry of National Security to deploy even more manpower to assist citizens. I have asked for several updated reports throughout the day to be provided directly to me so I can ascertain how effectively our resources are being deployed. Earlier today the key agencies along with Ministers met with me to discuss the way forward. I will also be establishing a hotline through which citizens can make calls to express their level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the ongoing efforts.
The deployment of more manpower and other resources will be in evidence tomorrow and I will resume my tour of the affected areas. In the midst of the natural disaster I am heartened by the sense of neighbourliness that was displayed by citizens. So many friends and family came together to help each other. Today Sunday even those who were affected lent support to others and people were driving to each other's homes to assist in the clean up. It seemed that the spirit of camaraderie, and being your brothers and sister keepers flowed as strong as the flood waters and brought much needed relief and hope to so many. I respectfully urge citizens who wish to come forward to help to form themselves into support units, pledge your support through bbm messages, twitter, face book, sms, or any other means of forming groups or you can call 511 and enquire what area of support you wish to give.
And it is that in the midst of the worst of times came this outpouring of empathy and help for each other to bring out the best in all of us. Your government is committed to doing everything to bring relief and support to every single citizen affected by the storm over the weekend. Call 511 to request assistance.
But there was a gold lining amidst the dark clouds yesterday as we received the news that young 19 year old Kershorn Walcott from Trinidad and Tobago had become the youngest javelin thrower in Olympic history to win Gold. Yesterday many of our nations hugged and cried as he stood on the platform and our national anthem played. I was told that some citizens stood before whatever television sets they could find at the time tears streaming down their mud caked faces as they cried with pride and in celebration of themselves. Trinidad and Tobago had secured Gold in our Golden Jubilee Year. Just minutes later we celebrated again when our men's 4 x 100 team brought home the bronze medal. This meant Trinidad and Tobago had secured our best performance ever in all the Olympics we participated in with the largest number of qualifications and four medals, including that Gold.
I have received so many calls from so many quarters asking in what way we shall commemorate this occasion to express the immense joy in the hearts and minds of every citizen of our great nation over the excellent performance of our Olympic athletes in London.
Our elation, our renewed sense of patriotism and our bolstered pride in the red, white and black began with the journey of our Olympic stars to London some weeks ago.
Thirty of our young men and women departed our country carrying with them dreams of athletic greatness and a solemn promise to do us proud as the world looked on at the best performing athletes in the world compete.
With each event our athletes competed in, dreams were fulfilled, greatness was achieved and our patriotic spirit was renewed in majestic fashion.
Our Olympic athletes not only validated our belief and faith in their superior sporting talent, but once again proved to the world that Trinidad and Tobago is a force to be reckoned with, winning one gold medal and three bronze medals.
This evening, the privilege is mine to congratulate these young men and women for being bold enough to dream big dreams, for being tenacious enough to believe in those dreams and indeed being courageous enough to fulfil those dreams.
Trinidad and Tobago's anthem and flag have become synonymous with determination with excellence, with humility and performance, with patriotism and national pride. Our people and our passion have now become international benchmarks for greatness.
Our exceptional young men and women have, without even knowing it, given reason and purpose to millions around the world to believe that whatever the challenges, greatness begins with a bold vision and can be achieved with hard work and devotion.
Today, many have reaffirmed their belief that whatever the challenges they face, victory can come.
Trinidad and Tobago first Olympic achievement came 36 years ago, in the year we became a Republic.
At that time, we felt a sense of triumph that motivated our belief that there can be no obstacle, however towering, that can take victory from our hands.
Today, a new generation of citizens is privileged to feel what we felt all those years ago, with the added good fortune of knowing that the profound joy they feel came from the achievements of their own peers.
In this the year of our Independence Golden Jubilee, there can be no better gift than the Olympic glory our young stars have brought us.
For this reason, on behalf of you the citizens, I convey my most sincere gratitude to keshorn and all our Olympians.
In particular, I pay tribute to Keshorn Walcott, gold medal winner in the Men's Javelin.
I pay tribute to Lalonde Gordon, winner of two bronze medals in the men's 400m final and the men's 4x100m relay.
I pay tribute to Marc Burns, bronze medal winner in the men's 4x100m relay.
I pay tribute to Jarrin Solomon, bronze medal winner in the men's 4x100m relay.
And Indeed on your behalf I pay tribute to all other athletes who performed with stellar sportsmanship, and brought great admiration to our small Republic including the record number of finalists who qualified in this Olympics and all those who proudly represented the red white and black of our nation.
Fellow citizens, as we draw closer to our celebration of our first half-century of being an independent, self-determining nation, it is important for us to deeply consider how proud our children have made us all.
Today, we celebrate achievement, we celebrate greatness and we celebrate pride in our flag and nation, and it is our young men and women who have given us cause for such celebration.
To our athletes, some of whom return home tomorrow, destiny has now bestowed a great privilege upon you, one that is known and felt by only the best in the world.
With this great privilege comes great responsibility to instil in others, the belief you had in yourselves.
It is for you to remind those who will now want to walk the trail that you have blazed that whatever your beginnings, whatever your circumstances, wherever you live whatever place or space you occupy in our land and however challenging the path in front of you may be - victory is possible.
The people of Trinidad and Tobago salute you and we thank you for once again showing the world that small though we are, far away though we are a people of passion and we can not only hold our own among the best, but also stand among the best!
And in tribute to the glorious achievements of Kershorn Walcott and our Olympic team I am proud to inform the nation that I have advised His Excellency, the Acting President Timothy Hamel Smith that Monday August 13th be appointed a national holiday.
Tomorrow we ask you to join us a ceremonial meeting will take place tomorrow morning when Kershorn Walcott arrives from London on Caribbean Airlines at 9:45 which will be broadcast live. I will then make an announcement on behalf of the nation in what ways our Kershorn Walcott will be honoured.
An honour motorcade will then take our hero from Piarco International Airport on to Eastern Main Road to Arima through Valencia, Sangre Grande and end in a tribute arranged by the village of Toco in partnership with the Government at the Toco Composite School.
I repeat you are all invited to join us as Kishorn brings Gold to Trinidad and Tobago. The public is invited to be a part of this historic occasion in which we all acknowledge and celebrate the historic moment Kershorn Walcott has gifted our nation.
My fellow citizens may God Bless you all and may God bless our nation.