Portland suffers again

MPs, NWA assess damage done to parish after weeks of heavy rainfall

Observer writer

Monday, January 22, 2018

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AN assessment of the damage done to Portland has been conducted following heavy showers which lashed the eastern section of the island for weeks, leaving communities cut off and thoroughfares damaged.

Trees uprooted have been left in threatening positions, a section of the guard rail has also been removed and a major crack in the road is posing a threat to the motoring public in Islesworth, located in the Rio Grande Valley.

Shawn Smith, senior engineer at the National Works Agency (NWA), has concluded that the situation in Portland is a complex one.

“The situation we face here is not a simple one. We will be getting the surveyor to do an assessment and the design to be done to correct the situation in the long term. We will be putting up a barricade to have the motorist keep more to the bank than to the side that is broken, which will cause more vibrating and cause it to break more as it is undermining,” he said.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation with responsibility for the land, environment, climate change and investment portfolios, Daryl Vaz, who led the assessment tour, described the situation as “urgent”.

“This is a serious and long-standing situation, and the National Works Agency has identified it as a long-standing problem that has gotten worst and is now at a crisis level.

“This so far is the number one priority that we have seen as danger to life and livelihood for the rafts men and tour buses, and we would not want the situation to be where there is no access from the broken road. I am giving a caution to the National Works Agency and the superintendent of police for Portland to have dialogue with the mining operator and the truck men to let them understand the danger of the trucks traversing here and further causing more undermining to take place based on the weight of the trucks, and they must advise as to what is the action to be taken. Whether or not the trucks will not be able to pass here after the final inspection as safety is the number one priority,” he stated.

Vaz said that it is too early to determine repair costs.

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for Portland Eastern Dr Lynvale Bloomfield was pleased with the plans stated.

“We are happy for what is happening on this tour. We have long been highlighting this area as a disaster waiting to happen. The first section that was undermined some four years ago is getting some attention, and now in this flooding a second segment has been undermined and is in a worst situation. Even where we are standing, we are standing on cracks; it is a very unstable place.

“We are very happy that things will start to happen almost immediately with the surveying — with the technicians that are here who are specialist in the area who are able to implement as quickly as possible. The lives of the citizens and those who come here are at risk.

“Something has to be done as we don't want anyone to be in danger as it's an environmental issue and the impact of the weather has to be taken into consideration. We have to move quickly and expedite this matter to secure this section so that the citizens' lives are safe,” Bloomfield told journalists during the tour.

A man who lives in the area and gave his name as Marvin told the Jamaica Observer North & East that he has never seen things this bad.

“It (main road) break away last week and all underneath there undermine and it's going to be difficult. Last week it wasn't like this and it getting worst. I want something to be done to it quickly, for if it remains like this it is going to break worst. I don't want it break off still and the big truck them, when they pass the place vibrate. Man have to work, but something has to be done fast,” he stressed.

A short distance from Rock Hill in the Grant's Level area, a spring eroded about nine yards of land space, making it difficult for a family to access their home.

Leroy Johnson said: “We used to drive right in, stand up right there, park right there (pointing to the washed away area) and then walk up. It is about nine yards of road wash away, tear away, and is disaster right there so.

“It was pure solid land and never expect this to happen — the water take it all away. We a look fi a little help for the old lady a 75 and have to walk up the ladder now. We want little help. If somebody did tell me five years ago this was going to happen I wouldn't believe. See the water take it all away.”

At Tom's Hope in the Rio Grande valley, water destroyed sections of the road as the White River overflowed its banks.

Claudia Roberts told Observer North & East: “Every time the rain comes it overflow its banks and destroy the road. It also floods the farms and houses. It has made it worst and the taxis don't want to come here, and when they come it cost much more as the drivers complain that it damage their cars. The children can't get to go out for school. We have reported it to many persons who come and look, but nothing has been done,” she said.

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