Downed trees cause power outages for several communities in Westmoreland

Downed trees cause power outages for several communities in Westmoreland

Monday, October 26, 2020

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WESTMORELAND, Jamaica — The Westmoreland Municipal Corporation (WMC) is reporting that there were minimal incidents in the parish over the past two days which saw the island being pelted by rains and winds as a result of a stationary Tropical Storm Zeta.

Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar and councillor for the Negril Division, Bertel Moore told OBSERVER ONLINE that he received reports of a landslide in the Bethel Town area and flooding in other sections of the parish, namely, Strathbogie in central Westmorealnd, McNeill Land in Little London, and Whitehall in Negril.

“There were no evacuations and no injuries based on the reports that I have received. But I am awaiting more information which will be provided later today,” he stated, pointing out that the Disaster Preparedness team for the parish is currently carrying out evaluations of each community.

Reports received by OBSERVER ONLINE from Councillor Cebert McFarlane of the Leamington Division, stated that, “As a result of the winds, some power lines were downed, which has caused the community to be without electricity for the past two days.”

McFarlane, however noted that volunteers from the community have started to clear debris from the roadways as they await assistance from the relevant government agencies.

Councillor for the Darliston Division, Jerome Bacchas, also told the OBSERVER ONLINE that, “Nothing serious has happened in my division. We had started a bushing and drain cleaning programme before the effects [of Tropical Storm Zeta], which was carried out by volunteers in the community of New Works. This is something that we will continue in other communities in the Division. I must commend the youths of the communities. This is volunteerism at its best.”

In the Friendship Division, Councillor Kevin Murray stated that, “During my drive through late last evening I did not see any signs of flooding or received any complaints regarding same.”

Mayor Moore further pointed out that while some houses are still flooded in the Little London area, the main road can now be traversed as most of the waters have since subsided. “Unlike other times, the flooding was not as devastating and we believe that the drain cleaning has prevented a more dire situation in the parish.”

Danree Delancy, Councillor for the Bethel Town Division and deputy Mayor of Savanna-la-mar, pointed out that if the community had its own fire-sub station as was requested from 2007, the clearing of fallen trees could have been handled at a faster pace. He expressed that the clearing so far is being done by volunteers using machetes.

“We have been requesting a fire sub-station for the Bethel Town Division since 2007,” he told the OBSERVER ONLINE. “We had an agreement with the former ministers of security and local government to use the facility of the Bethel Town Police Station, that had extra rooms upstairs, to house the Fire Department. We refurbished the rooms and created office, dining and a common room area and it has been ready for habitation for a while. We went further to even acquire two fire engines and two ambulances from the Japanese embassy through a programme they have. Then we were told by the Brigade that they don't have enough personnel to man the station and they are going to do some training.”

In addition, he stated that the station would serve several communities in the region, located in Westmoreland, St James and Hanover. Stressing that fire trucks usually take a longer time to arrive to these areas because the closest fire stations are in Savanna-la-Mar, 17 miles away, and in Montego Bay, 24 miles away.

“We are told that one of the ambulances were involved in an accident and the other is out on loan along with the two fire units. But this is something that the people of Bethel Town have been looking forward to for 17 years,” he stressed.

Over in the Savanna-la-Mar Division, residents of Walter Cheddisingh housing scheme are fearful that dengue will shortly be a major issue in their community due to blocked drains and ponds that have formed in empty lots as a result of the continuous rainfall over the past few weeks. One resident, Alison Espeut pointed out to OBSERVER ONLINE that the empty lot beside her property has been transformed into a pond.

“Each time they come to grade the road, they push marl in the drains, further blocking them. The scheme needs attention. We want to know who is responsible and what are their plans. Who will get in touch with the landowners to tell them to clean up their properties? And will the landowners who are not complying face penalties?” she asked, adding that she is also worried about crocodiles inhabiting the pond and more rains causing it to overflow into her yard.

The WMC has stated that the scheme is a private development and is the responsibility of the Westmoreland Trust which is owned by Dr Karl Blythe, former People's National Party Member of Parliament for Westmoreland Central.

The Meteoreological Office of Jamaica has reported that a trough continues to influence the weather conditions across the island today with showers and thunderstorms expected across southern and north eastern parishes. A flash flood warning remains in effect for all parishes until 5:00 pm this afternoon.

Rosalee Wood

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