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Marooned! More than 100 people stranded in St Ann after rain

Red Cross contacted to help marooned community

BY ALESIA EDWARDS Observer staff reporter alesiae@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, August 24, 2012    

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PARRY TOWN, St Ann — Heavy rains early yesterday morning left more than 100 residents in an informal settlement near Ocho Rios marooned. Several homes and businesses in other parts of the community were also flooded.

The heavy rains also caused further damage to the already battered Parry Town/Pimento Walk main road, which links the communities to the resort north coast town of Ocho Rios.

"We need the road to be fixed and proper drainage system put in place [as] the road is in a very deplorable state. Right now we don't have any road," Parry Town resident Rayon Dunkley complained to the Jamaica Observer.

"I grow up come see this road in the same condition. It's been so many years now, the gully is so bad when rain fall, we need proper road and proper drainage," he added.

Dunkley pointed to a gully in the community which, he explained, was responsible for the flooding; and said corrective measures were needed immediately to prevent further damage to the roads and private properties.

Another resident, Beverly Archer, was seen removing silt from a shop in the community. "It's just a lot of water and mud," she said. "It (water) came from all over and it made a big pile of mud. Nothing was damaged, but right now I have to be washing out the place because of the amount of water and mud."

Councillor Ian Bell (PNP, Beecher Town Division), explained that emergency work to help ease some of the discomfort, especially to those affected by the flooding, would immediately be undertaken.

"I spoke to the mayor, hoping to get some funding for some remedial road work which should be done starting today (yesterday)," Bell said. "This is now a matter of emergency, and we cannot put this off for tomorrow."

Bell said he was expecting the council to allocate about $2 million for the emergency work, which includes the cleaning of drains and clearing of debris from the roadway, to commence.

The deplorable state of the road sparked a protest by residents and taxi operators earlier this week, and Bell said even before yesterday's heavy rainfall plans were in place to carry out some repairs.

"I have put this road on a priority list of the St Ann Parish Council, where I expect that we should be getting some money as early as possible from the Ministry of Local Government," Bell said. "This road, the Pimento Walk to Parry Town road, is on the priority list to be rehabilitated in short order."

The councillor also said measures will have to be put in place to address the flooding situation, especially in the informal settlement area where close to 100 persons were affected yesterday.

"I have been in dialogue with the Red Cross, and I'm hoping that I'm going to be able to get some emergency assistance for them," he said of the residents who were cut off from the community yesterday.

The heavy rain also left the community without electricity for most of yesterday, after a fallen tree reportedly caused damage to power lines in the area.

Parry Town is one of several communities in St Ann which has been categorised as being among the more vulnerable disaster areas in the parish.

The Red Cross is currently conducting the Caribbean Community Resilient Disaster Risk Project following which a committee to help residents deal with different disasters will be set up.

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