Travel horror as heavy downpour leads to St James floodingSunday, January 10, 2021
BY HORACE HINES
ANCHOVY, St James — Even though Cinderella Bigbie was yesterday confined to her bed at home in Wiltshire near here, she is giving thanks for her narrow escape from death.
It followed injuries she sustained when she was swept away by powerful floodwaters following a heavy, sustained downpour which lashed sections of St James on Friday.
The floodwaters also wreaked havoc on infrastructure in the community and commercial facilities in Anchovy and Long Hill.
Bigbie, the supervisor of a security company, reflected that she was unable to disembark from a van that transported her home as a result of a high-rising water from a sudden, heavy downpour.
But as she waited in the vehicle she realised that the road was becoming inundated with water so she made an attempt to dash across to her sister's house nearby.
Before she could reach her sibling's gate, however, she was swept away by floodwaters that came rushing down and was only saved by her sister's grandson who reacted quickly upon realising the danger.
“Me try to get to my sister's gate and stepped in the water and something came down and swept away my feet. Me drop in the water and the water start to wash me away and my sister's grandson was in the yard and he ran into the water and held me and the water start wash away both of us.
“Him let me go but when he saw the water washing me down in the hole he ran back again and grabbed me and knelt down and pulled me out. The water covered my head. Everything gone...me phone dem damage, everything gone,” Bigbie said.
When the Jamaica Observer, manoeuvred the damaged roads on foot to reach Bigbie's house, she was found still shivering in bed, complaining of aches all over her body.
“When him pull me out me realise that me neck, me back and me hand in pain and something licked me in me head in the water. From that me just feel cold and me no stop vomitting because whole heap of the water went down (my throat). And me tongue mash up. Something stuck in my throat, I can hardly swallow,” she bemoaned.
“I can't get to the doctor because the road mash up. I drink warm water and take the pain pill. I am just cold and me body deh tremble. I am just nervous. Me can't sleep because me just a imagine how me inna the water.”
Dwight “Deebo” Crawford, Jamaica Labour Party's councillor for the Spring Gardens Division, who yesterday visited Bigbie during a tour of the the area, committed to provide transportation to take her to a medical facility.
The heavy rains wash down debris from the hilly areas of Wiltshire situated in the St James West Central constituency, down into the Anchovy and Long Hill areas of St James Southern where Homer Davis is the parliamentary representative.
Davis, who is also the minister of state in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, yesterday morning visited Anchovy where the National Works Agency (NWA) had some four tractors and a number of trucks removing the debris that piled up along the roadway, creating a traffic nightmare.
“The road became impassable last (Friday) night and equipment were mobilised and so it afforded a one-lane traffic from about 2:00 am (yesterday). What has happened since I have been here this (yesterday) morning from about 9 o'clock... we have four tractors and about five to six trucks moving away the debris from the side of the road and the driveway,” Davis said.
“I must give commendation to the workers from the National Works Agency who have been here from midnight (Friday) and also the police who have been here making sure they have a smooth sail of traffic because this is one of the most busy thoroughfare in the parish. It takes traffic from Montego Bay into Savanna-la-Mar and into the hill of southern St James. So when Long Hill road is blocked it creates a real big problem for the motoring public,” Davis added.
He expressd the need for the “realignment and improvement” of drains in the parish, arguing that the drains in the areas affected by Friday's flooding were not big enough to “run off” the volume of water.
“We have work to be done because we need to look at the drainage system. I was speaking to a technical person from NWA this morning he said to me that even if the drains were four times the size that they are now they could not have accommodated the run off as a result of that rain. And so this is something that we have to look at. I know this is a overall drainage problem for the island of Jamaica and, in particular, Montego Bay because we have two major gullies in Montego Bay and that is just Montego Bay alone,” Davis said.
“I know the Long Hill bypass will be coming on stream sometime but for the time being this road will still have to be used by citizens that live on the area. So it needs to be given some consideration,” Davis went on.
Crawford ruled out the clogging of drains resulting in the flooding as the drains were cleaned as recently as last month.
“We don't have any estimate of the damage as yet, but undoubtedly it is in the millions of dollars, it's easy to see. A lot of work has to be done. We did an extensive drain cleaning and debushing during the Christmas so I am confident that the drains were cleaned. But when a fourfoot boulder run down into a two-foot drain, no, you can't blame drain cleaning for that,” Davis said.
Several individuals complained that their residences and business places were “washed out” by the floodwaters.
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