Regional

Flood again!

Weekend rains overwhelm south central Jamaica

Monday, June 19, 2017

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Mandeville , Manchester — Just weeks after flooding caused widespread devastation, south central Jamaica was again hit hard by heavy rains on the weekend.

Clarendon, Manchester and St Elizabeth all reported extensive flooding.

Mayor of May Pen Winston Maragh, who toured central and southern sections of Clarendon on Saturday identified Rocky Point, Portland Cottage, Milk River, Four Paths, Toll Gate, Scotts Pass and sections of the capital May Pen among areas most affected.

Maragh said some houses had been flooded, forcing people to flee their homes in a few cases, and several roads were made impassable. At one point on Saturday, motorists on the Kingston to Mandeville route had to turn back or pull over and wait for the water to subside.

Maragh said that in May Pen the construction of plazas and large buildings appeared to be hindering natural water flow. “The water not flowing as it used to,” he said. The May Pen mayor added that there were also reports of landslides blocking roads in the north of the parish.

In Manchester, there was widespread flooding in the capital Mandeville on Saturday, with roadways in and around the town centre including Caledonia Road, Ward Avenue, Bonitto Crescent, Decarteret Road, New Green Road being declared impassable or near impassable at various times.

The communities of Porus, Williamsfield, Content and Hanbury were severely affected with reports of families marooned in an area close to Porus.

A telephone caller, Ann Marie Stewart of Hanbury District told the Jamaica Observer Central by telephone that she had to pack up and leave her house because water from the Winston Jones Highway had flooded her home.

Asked where she would go, Stewart replied “mi not even sure”.

Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell said the practice of failing to get building approvals, and then constructing houses in low-lying areas, or even in water courses, was a major cause for the flooding of homes.

In addition to that, he said, many homeowners were blocking drains by building walls around their homes. Some residents, he said, were blocking roadways and drains with building materials including sand and marl, “so when the rain come you must have flooding”.

Mitchell said that local authorities will now have to rigorously Implement the “letter and spirit of the law” in order to reduce such occurrences.

Meanwhile, in St Elizabeth there were also reports of flooding and blocked roads in southern parts of the parish, including Treasure Beach, Bull Savannah, Flagaman, Yardley Chase, Top Hill, Southfield.

In coastal, low-lying Treasure Beach, which is among Jamaica's fast-growing tourist resort areas, run-off from the Santa Cruz Mountains led to the several natural ponds in the area overflowing their banks, flooding homes and businesses and destroying roadways.

Locals yesterday gave thanks for an as yet unfinished drainage canal from the Great Pedro Pond at Great Bay to the sea, which they said helped to prevent further devastation.

“If it wasn't for the canal, Treasure Beach would be in a lot more trouble,” one resident told the Observer Central by telephone.

A historic, landmark Cassia tree said to be well over 100 years old was uprooted by wind and flood waters.

Jason Henzell, hotelier and former chairman of the St Elizabeth Parish Development Committee, said the situation emphasized the need for a comprehensive drainage plan for Treasure Beach.

— Garfield Myers

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