Third flooding at Hotel Riu Reggae in two years

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Third flooding at Hotel Riu Reggae in two years

BY HORACE HINES
Staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Floodwater that pooled on the grounds of Hotel Riu Reggae on Monday afternoon has provoked feelings of déjà vu among stakeholders of the St James property, who experienced their third flooding at the location since 2018.

However, an undaunted Frank Sondern, the hotel's regional director for the Jamaica properties, revealed that measures implemented after the two previous instances of flooding served to mitigate Monday's devastation from inundation of the property following a torrential downpour.

“We have deepened our drainages, we have made additional drainages on the property... so that helped a lot yesterday [Monday] to really have the water recede very quickly and prevent major damage like we had the last times. This time, for example, we had no problems with water. Last time, our water tank got contaminated so we had to close the hotel... and send all our guests to other properties. This time there was no need for that. We were able to prevent that,” Sondern told reporters yesterday.

The hotel executive pointed out that the floodwaters which surged inside the reception area of the resort caused operations to stall for about three hours.

“For about three hours it affected the operation, but after 7 o'clock we already opened the bar back. By 8 o'clock we had the show area ready and, of course, it delayed the dinner process a little bit. We had to clean the way to the restaurants,” Sondern said.

He said, too, that a power outage in the area intensified the challenges caused by the flooding.

“For a short moment there was a power outage here in the area as well, and therefore we were without power for a while, but kitchen resumed work. We had dinner as normally prepared in our main dining room and buffet area; bars were ready,” he added.

The floodwater reportedly rushed from a drain in the area that became blocked by silt and boulders swept down by the heavy showers.

A strong team of National Works Agency (NWA) workers, which was dispatched yesterday morning, was seen using heavy-duty equipment to clean the drain. Other drains in other sections of the parish that experienced flooding on Monday were also included in yesterday's clearing exercise.

According to Janel Ricketts, community relations officer for the NWA western region, technical workers have since been dispatched to assess measures to be employed to address the problem.

“The flooding was based on a number of factors. We are doing some assessments to determine the way forward. Even as this is not the first occurrence, but it was an unusual, heavy rain that caused that large volume of water that came down. It's a fairly wide drain but the sheer volume of water that came down transported a lot of boulders and silt,” Ricketts explained.

Chairman of the St James Municipal Corporation (SJMC) Councillor Leeroy Williams, accompanied by Government Senator Charles Sinclair and Councillor Arthur Lynch, chairman of the SJMC Disaster Committee, toured the hotel yesterday morning and met with Sondern and other senior hotel staff.

Senator Sinclair implored residents to properly dispose of their solid waste.

“I want to speak to members of the public because, looking at the situation, the drain that we examined, I saw a lot of plastic bottles — which speaks to illegal depositing of waste in areas that can cause them to get into the channels. I saw a lot of leftover tree cuttings and so forth which contributed to the clogging of the waterway, and what that speaks to when you consider where the drain is coming from — all the way up in Flower Hill, Salt Spring area — what it speaks of is we may have persons just cutting the lumber for farming purposes, for coal purposes and so forth, and they get into the waterway and contribute to the clogging,” he argued.

Williams noted that as recent as last Thursday, “councillors were alerted, just to make sure they cleaned the drains in their respective divisions”.


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