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Ministry to get flood report today

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 24, 2014    

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THE National Works Agency (NWA) said a report is being compiled and will be sent to the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing today on the damage caused by last weekend's flood rains.

Sections of Portland and St Mary were hardest hit.

"Details in this report will have to be released by the minister," Colin Morrison, NWA senior communications officer, told Auto.

The report will guide the Government's assessment of the damage, as well as the Ministry's submission to Cabinet on Monday in seeking the funding to start repairs.

In the meantime, Cabinet yesterday announced a preliminary figure of $158 million in damage.

The NWA is currently engaged in reopening several corridors that have been closed.

"NWA officers have initiated response procedures in order to minimise the inconveniences to affected persons," said Stephen Shaw, NWA communications and customer services manager.

According to reports, washed-down silt is affecting the Boundbrook to St Margaret's Bay main road, close to Snow Hall in Portland, while the corridor from Schoolhouse Corner to Chepstow is severely scoured.

Landslides have affected the Durham Gap to Hope Bay main road, and the Forty Acres parochial road is flooded due to blocked drains.

Sections of the Mason Hall roadway, at Days Mountain in St Mary, are in deep trenches, while the Airy Hill road leading to Mason Hall is destroyed.

The Little Bay to Spring Road main is impassable, due to the collapse of a retaining wall.

The Jack's River to Little Bay road is impassable, as was the case from Trinity to Little Bay. Heavy equipment is being used by the NWA to remove fallen trees and debris.

Some roads have been reopened to small vehicular access.

Mayor of Port Maria, Councillor Levan Freeman, has estimated the damage to the parish at $180 million. He made his assessment during a tour with Minister of State in the ministry, Richard Azan, on Tuesday.

Andrew Holness, leader of the Opposition, accompanied by chairman Robert Montague and team, toured the St Mary flooded areas on Wednesday.

Montague, a former Member of Parliament for Western St Mary, questioned whether the $700 million spent on mitigation following heavy flooding in November 2012 was done wisely.

The People's National Party (PNP) Youth Organisation has also raised concerns about the fragility of the infrastructure, despite the spending, and has called for a "scientific study" to determine the causes of the perennial flooding.

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