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Residents in flood-prone communities worried, but...

Kimmo Matthews

Tuesday, October 23, 2012    

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RESIDENTS in a number of flood-prone communities across the Corporate Area are worried about the possible effects of Tropical Storm Sandy on their homes, but say they will watch the developments before responding to the advice issued yesterday by the island's disaster management agency.

"Right now we just have to hope and pray and keep watch," said Antonette Fisher, a resident of New Haven, a community with a history of flooding whenever it rains.

Marie Oram, another resident, said she, too, was worried but would not panic as her house was only affected after two to three days of sustained rainfall.

"That's all we can do right now — watch and hope," said Oram.

Yesterday, as Tropical Storm Sandy placed Jamaica in its cross hairs, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) intensified calls for Jamaicans to prepare.

The Meteorological Service also advised that tropical storm conditions pose a possible threat to the island within 48 hours.

"At 4:00 pm, the centre of Tropical Storm Sandy was located near Latitude 12.5 degrees North, Longitude 78.5 degrees West, or about 640 kilometres (395 miles) south-south-west of Kingston, Jamaica or 490 kilometres (300 miles) south of the Pedro Cays," the Met Service said.

"Tropical Storm Sandy has remained nearly stationary over the past few hours, but a motion towards the north and north-north-east is expected during the next couple of days. On this forecast track, the centre of the tropical storm will begin to move across Jamaica, from south to north, near midday on Wednesday," the Met Service added.

ODPEM Director General Ronald Jackson said the agency has taken note of the forecast, adding that tropical cyclones usually develop without warning.

"It is against this background that I am calling on persons, especially those living in low-lying and flood-prone areas, to begin to take the necessary precautions," said Jackson.

He also called on people in communities close to the Bog Walk Gorge to be more vigilant and not to allow vandals and other unscrupulous persons to damage the emergency gate leading to the Flat Bridge.

"This is one of the problems we continue to have; persons failing to follow instructions and forcing open the emergency gate when it is closed," said Jackson.

Yesterday, at Sandy Park, where several houses are hanging dangerously on the banks of the damaged gully, and from where five members of a family were washed away during Tropical Storm Nicole in September 2010, residents expressed concern.

"Of course we worried, boss. If the rain should come and fall like how it did a few months ago, we fear that we may lose our homes," said Winston Higgins.

He was speaking from the spot where scores of residents staged a protest a few weeks ago, calling on the authorities to address their concerns about the gully.

The National Works Agency has since announced that plans were in place to rectify the problem, but that provided little comfort for the residents.

In Kintyre, residents were hoping that the rains expected from Sandy would not damage the makeshift bridge which was re-erected in the area.

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