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Valentine Gardens residents plead again for help

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter ?matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, October 25, 2012    

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SIGNS of desperation were yesterday etched on the face of Eaton Bryan as he braved the pounding rain to try and prevent soil being washed away from the base of his house in Valentine Gardens, St Andrew.

“Boss, a me six-bedroom house me a try to save; it is all I have, it’s all of my life savings,” the 56-year-old man told the Jamaica Observer just hours before the passage of Hurricane Sandy.

Bryan was one of several residents of the community who were nervously watching and praying that rains from Hurricane Sandy would not further damage the walls of the Sandy Gully where their houses are dangerously perched.

“… Right now, as we speak, three houses are likely to break away and more than 20 people, including children, will be left without a place to live,” said another resident, Aaron Hickenson, 46, who made a desperate call for help.

Bryan, who obviously had no expertise in dealing with soil erosion, used tarpaulin to help hold the loose soil next to his house. “Me nuh know if it going work, but desperate man clutch at straw; and right now my mind a tell me say it can work,” Bryan said.

Junior Works Minister Richard Azan, who visited the area, promised the residents that attention would be given to the section of the gully which was threatening houses.

“We are aware of the problems [as] we received calls from the residents and visited the area to look at the situation,” said Azan. The ministry, he said, would continue to monitor the situation.

At the same time, Stephen Shaw, head of communication at the National Works Agency (NWA), said an assessment was done and that section of the Sandy Gully was identified as one of the places that will have to be addressed urgently.

Meanwhile, while the works ministry and the NWA decides what to do about that section of the gully, David Hickenson said damage to his house forced him to live in the back of a van.

“… I have to be living in the back of a van because I have nowhere else to go,” said Hickenson, a father of two.

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