Flooding wreaking havoc on Ida Barnes' farm

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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CLARENDON farmer Ida Barnes says she is frustrated that nothing has been done to address the persistent flooding that has been affecting her farm in McGilchrist Pen.The 73-year-old farmer told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that, since 2003, whenever it rains her three-acre farm in is flooded, which has seriously affected her livelihood.

“Corn, okra, cucumber, string bean, pumpkin and potato are the crops I plant, and everything dead. So mi expect these here to die,” she said, pointing to corn in the field flooded by heavy rains affecting the island since Saturday.

Barnes said she was in the midst of clearing and replanting crops destroyed last month during persistent rain, only to be affected by flooding again.

“Mi no have nothing to live off now. [It was] the little okra and the corn that was there a finance me. See the first part of the crop destroyed the other day. Mi plant the corn so mi can sell it ah market and now mi no get no crop,” Barnes said, adding that she lost half-acre of hot pepper, 94 chickens, lettuce, and corn last month when heavy rains brought disaster to sections of south-east Clarendon.

Barnes, while noting that she exchanged her bauxite-rich land in Manchester to Jamalco for her current location, said she has been suffering.

“Mi call dem (Ministry of Agriculture representatives) and mi tell dem. Mi no get no compensation from dem. When it rains this is what happened, but mi just always keep quiet. Now mi can't keep quiet. This is me life and a it mi need to help mi life,” the senior citizen continued.

She added that she needs the relevant government agencies to address the issue.

Barnes was unable to recall the last time a representative from mining company Alpart visited the property, but she said they were aware of the conditions. The property, she said, was bought for her after she gave up her piece of land to Alpart for mining.

“An engineer came twice. She told me that she was coming back, but I haven't seen her since the company sent her,” she said.

But, despite loosing her crops, she doesn't regret exchanging her land.

“I will be satisfied if they come and just help me with this. If they don't help me I will rebel. If dem have help to help me I would love for dem to help me.

“Mi and dem no inna a nothing. Mi just want them come do something for me,” she said.

Barnes, who is also registered with Rural Agricultural Development Authority said they, too, are aware of the long standing issue.

Mayor of May Pen Winston Maragh said yesterday that there was no massive flooding in the parish, unike the previous occasion when several residents were forced to evacute their homes.

“There was no furniture damage. I haven't heard of anyone who was displaced. The water has now subsided; people are going about their businesses. There are, however, reports that a number of animals have drowned,” Maragh added, while reiterating that there was no major flooding in the parish this time.

Maragh said: “Thank God that the rain didn't fall continuously, like two weeks ago. Some of the residents who were in high spirit said they were happy that their premises were not flooded.

Shawn Barnes, a resident of Lionel Town, said, “Mi glad say the rain, no fall hard like the last time”. His home was not affected by the flood last month, either.

Devon Jones, a resident of Mineral Heights, shared similar sentiments. “Last month was terrible. Mi just glad how nobody no too flood out still,” he said.

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