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United in recovery

Karl Lane residents remove uprooted tree blocking road

Ingrid Brown

Monday, October 29, 2012    

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RESIDENTS of Karl Lane in Pond Side, St Thomas, did not sit and wait for the National Works Agency to remove the massive tree which had fallen across the road, trapping them in their community for hours.

Almost as soon as it fell during Wednesday's heavy rains brought on by Hurricane Sandy, male residents were out hacking at its thick trunk with machetes. Finding that their tools were no match for it, however, they returned to the task very early the next day, this time with the help of a power saw.

"It's a Lane effort, where everybody pitch in and help when there is a disaster," said resident Karl Johnson, as he took a break from sawing the tree and refreshed himself with a bag juice.

"Community members nuh fraid fi come out and just help," he added.

The tree had not only blocked access to and from the community, but had, in fact, fallen on top of a house and was dangerously perched.

Several residents were unable to leave in their vehicles and had to squeeze through the thick foliage of the tree instead.

"So the community members just come out to make sure that the way can be cleared for people to be able to drive out," he said, pointing to the many parked vehicles of anxious motorists who were waiting for the road to be cleared.

Owner of the concrete dwelling on which the tree fell, Oswald McPherson, was grateful for the united effort of his neighbours in helping to remove the tree, which was uprooted from a neighbour's home adjacent to his. The tree fell across the lane and landed on a section of the zinc roof.

"Although me nuh have nuh money fi fix back me roof now, me still give God thanks because it could have been worse," he said, adding that small children were inside when the tree came crashing down.

The residents said the tree had uprooted under the pressure of Sandy's 150 km/h (90mph) winds, even before the storm made landfall in mid-afternoon and devastated the eastern section of the island.

"The big tree just fall even before the eye pass over," Johnson explained.

Oswald said they had no idea the tree would have been uprooted as it had weathered many storms before and gave no indication that it could have been a threat to his home. Recounting what happened, McPherson said the tree fell so quickly he would not have had time to react if it had caused his roof to cave in.

"Me just hear a loud noise, and when mi come out and look mi see the tree on mi house...it happen so fast," he said.

Outside of the broken rafters, McPherson said the damage to his house could have been so much worse had it not been for the utility wires which somewhat cushioned its fall.

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