News

Several make dangerous trek during hurricane

BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor - special assignment browni@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, October 25, 2012    

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DESPITE the warning to stay indoors during yesterday's passage of Hurricane Sandy, several people left the safety of their homes to converge along the main road in sections of St Catherine.

Even as the hurricane, which featured heavy breeze and continuous rainfall, made landfall in the mid-afternoon, scores of people could be seen making their way in-between fallen trees and downed power lines. For some it was to satisfy their curiosity, while for others it was the ideal time to retrieve ackees and breadfruit from the fallen trees.

On the Old Harbour Road, just outside of the centre of the St Catherine capital, Spanish Town, scores of young men and women were seen along the thoroughfare which was littered with tree limbs and downed zinc fences. While some of the young men used the opportunity to play a game of football in the street, other persons huddled in conversation at the many wayside shops and bars or simply made their way along the debris littered road.

The main road from Spanish Town to Old Harbour was empty of vehicles as motorists, for the most part, avoided the roadway, sections of which were blocked by fallen trees.

In low-lying sections of Old Harbour Bay a number of women and children sought shelter at the Old Harbour High School.

"We [are] watching to see if the sea [is] going to rise before we leave," said a fisherman who identified himself only as Glen.

Another fisherman, Marlon Hunter, told the Jamaica Observer that they would leave only if it became too dangerous to stay.

"When we see a big wave lift up then we know it is coming and we will leave then, because when dat happens the wave cover this building," he said of the fish market located near the fishing beach.

According to Hunter, not only could a storm surge cause the wave to cover the building, which is about 20 feet high, but, could affect many houses in the seaside town.

"During Hurricane Dean is way up ah one shop me swim from, because that is how far the sea go," Hunter said, as he looked out on the choppy waves inching closer to land by the minute.

Peter Davis, People's National Party (PNP) councillor for the Old Harbour Bay Division, said 67 children and 32 adults were transported to the shelter at the Old Harbour High School.

"We got three JUTC buses to come down here and two left full for the shelter," said Davis, who was touring the community during the Observer's visit. The number of persons at the shelter, Davis said, could increase as some persons turned up on their own.

Meanwhile, a wooden house on St John's Road in Spanish Town just missed being hit by a huge tree which fell just inches away. Firemen were called to cut the tree to allow the occupants of the house to get out.

The heavy breeze downed trees, power lines and several zinc fences all along the St John's Road and Job Lane, also in Spanish. But despite the dangers posed by flying zinc and downed power lines residents were out in droves gathering breadfruit from fallen trees. Even the tiniest of children were seen braving the rain and wind to pick up the fruits.

"Mi going home go cook dem yah fi mi dinner," said a woman as she held tightly to the items.

And despite the bad weather, some ground produce vendors at the intersection of Municipal Boulevard and the Mandela Highway ensured they did not miss out on the last-minute sale opportunities.

In Portmore, a few curious residents in Braeton left their homes to converge on the edge of a gully to watch the rising waters which had threatened to overflow into nearby homes.

Residents of Two East in Greater Portmore watched as the operator of a backhoe tried unsuccessfully to remove the overgrowth in a drain which had started to overflow, also threatening houses nearby. "A joke thing this because me can't believe is now dem just ah do this," said a man, believed to be a resident of the community.

Another accused Government officials of "wanting to give their friends some work" why the clearing of the drainage was just being done. "That not going to work at this point, so we just going flood out," he said, as he joined the large group of persons who gathered to watch the rising waters.

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