Canadian store collapse brings memories of Barbados cave-in disaster

Where are the men?

Dear Barbados Free Press,

As a Bajan living in Canada I thought you would be interested in the following article from the Toronto Sun newspaper because it made me think about what happened in Bim at the Arch Cot collapse when the police, fire and military dithered for a whole day before venturing into the wreckage. Then they chopped down the apartment wreckage into the hole, without regards to anyone who still might have been alive.

This Toronto Sun article by Joe Warmington points out that people live for over a week in collapsed buildings. That didn’t matter in Barbados and it didn’t matter in Elliot Lake Canada where government prevented rescue teams from entering the building, saying it was “too dangerous”.

Where are the men? Where are those who devote their lives to rescuing others in these kinds of disasters? When the crunch time comes they always seem to fail us.

They always talk about “lessons learned” but never seem to apply those lessons on the next time. The lesson for each of us is that you cannot rely upon the government. You must be prepared to save yourself.

The death certificate for Donavere Codrington says he died two days after the collapse and that fact got short shift at the inquest.

The Sun article says that Elliot Lake will not forget. That’s a lie: yes, it will. Barbados did, Canada will too. Barbados forgot and nobody was held accountable for building on a known cave.

Justice Mottley and daughter Mia Mottley

Nobody was held responsible for removing the prohibition against building on the land. Mia Mottley and her family were involved. They owned the land at one time. Nothing more need be said.

sign me “Never Forget”

Further Reading

Please read the following article at the Toronto Sun: Warmington: Elliot Lake will not forget

Warmington: Elliot Lake will not forget

“It’s just not safe.” — HUSAR leader Bill Neadles.

Was Juno beach safe?

How about Vimy Ridge or Helmand Province?

When would such an emergency rescue mission, which would require bringing in the Heavy Urban Search And Rescue Team (HUSAR), ever have safe conditions?

Only in nanny-state Ontario could somebody decide the working conditions for rescue workers in a catastrophe were not safe enough to do what they are trained, and paid, to do.

It’s not a province of heroes like we saw in New York after 9/11 or in Haiti after the earthquake or in Japan after the tsunami.

It’s a province of red tape and appears to be one of some pretty useless bureaucratic cowards who had better not bill the taxpayer for one minute of overtime.

The people of Elliot Lake have not received their money’s worth.

Sources say there were trained rescuers prepared to go into the Algo Mall collapse and put it all on the line. Word is they were not allowed to.

If true, this is a national disgrace.

Why even have these expensive, special rescue teams if they will only act if there is no chance they will come out without a scratch?

The comment by HUSAR’s Bill Neadles, a Toronto Police staff inspector, about safety may not be wrong but it being unsafe is why his team of experts are there in the first place. That something is unsafe still does not change that every ticking second should have been spent trying to think up ideas to give the people caught in the rubble a fighting chance.

It may not be too late. There are many examples of people living for more than a week in such things. Instead of talking spin at a press conference Tuesday, they should have been working.

If the HUSAR team felt they could not do the job, or were forbidden from doing the job, they should have called for back-up from elsewhere.

Perhaps, the worst part of this embarrassment is that not only did the $100,000 heroes not do what they are paid to do but regular and willing citizens were stopped from giving it a shot.

It’s not one of Ontario’s finest hours — or that of a country which has brave heroes buried all over the world.

One dead here or a dozen, makes no difference. Elliot Lake will not forget this betrayal.

To halt such a rescue, and not work and utilize every second trying to think of ways to save people, is not something that is going to be glossed over. The system appears to have failed.

There will need to be a full inquiry into every aspect of this — from prior warnings about the dangers of this structure to who decided what and when on the issue of the non-rescue effort?

The fact that at one point officials threw in the towel is obscene.

As the firefighters’ credo states: “I want to fill my calling and, to give the best in me, to guard my neighbour and protect his property, and, if according to (God’s) will, I have to lose my life.”

The “I will stand down because some pencil pusher says it’s too dangerous and we will sit around and do nothing” line does not seem to be in there.

If Canada is now a country where a rescue worker has to sign a waiver to be brave, then it should also be a country that will not stand in the way of true heroes who don’t need medals to at least try.

Not everybody is a quitter.

“The hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men” is what 19th century American author Henry David Thoreau wrote.

However, in Elliot Lake, it seems the dead may be found before the heroes ever are.


Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, Canada, Disaster

4 responses to “Canadian store collapse brings memories of Barbados cave-in disaster

  1. Lobster Boy

    The coroner’s inquest into the Arch Cot collapse was a wonderful exercise in appearing to investigate the deaths of five people without actually revealing to the public who did the deed. The deed being the amazing transformation of worthless land into valuable land through the secret removal of a prohibition against building on the land that happened when the Mottleys were making money. If this happened in the UK the press would be all over it.

  2. RLL

    Don’t expect transparency when any of the big-ups are involved in anything.

  3. West Side Davie

    The person who removed the prohibition against building on the lot would be criminally negligent in the USA: good for a prison term of many years if death is caused.

  4. John

    The way things work in Barbados the person who removed the prohibition could be the PM of the day …. perhaps JMGM given the timing.

    He has long passed!!

    … but the responsibility I guess would rest with GOB.