Highway anger
Clarendon residents demand adjustments to prevent flooding
Ramone Watson, resident of Top Halse Hall in Clarendon, points to a section of the South Coast Highway that he says causes water to back up in his yard as well as flood the street. His mother, Dale Watson looks on. (Photo: Joseph wellington)

Dale Watson was uneasy for most of Monday as heavy rain associated with Hurricane Ian pelted the island.

Watson, who lives at Top Halse Hall in Clarendon, told the Jamaica Observer that her anxiety is rooted in the fact that, in the past, during heavy and continuous rain, floodwater would fill her yard and invade her house.

This time, however, she was glad she didn't have to bail out water from inside her house. But she is insisting that the authorities expand a drain in front of her house and uproot the trees growing inside it.

"We were fretting on Monday. If the rain continued, the house woulda flood. Is a lucky thing it fall, then ease up, then fall and ease up. Each time the rain ease up, we had to come out and clear a path so that the water in the yard could go inna di gully," Watson said on Tuesday.

Resident of Cornpiece in Clarendon, Rennie Beckford clearing a drain in front of his house on Tuesday to get flood water out of his yard after heavy rain associated Hurricane Ian rain on Monday. (Photo: Joseph wellington)

"Di gully itself needs to clean; because of the bush in di gully, it sends back the water on the road. The trench that the highway people put there, it full up easily because di trees in there are big," she said.

Her son Ramone Watson reiterated her plea for a bigger and better drainage system.

"Before the highway, when rain fall, water used to run off easily. Now, it nuh have the space fi run," he said.

The mother and son were among a number of angry residents in Clarendon who pointed to flaws in the construction of the south coast highway that, they said, could have caused major damage to their properties had the rain continued for hours without pause on Monday.

Rain water running out of a yard in Top Hill, Hayes, Calrendon on Tuesday. Jamaica missed a direct hit from Hurricane Ian but the storm dumped heavy rain on Clarendon and other parishes. (Photo: Joseph wellington)

At Cornpiece in Hayes, Rennie Beckford was in water boots clearing a drain just outside the front gate of his property to allow water that was backed up in his yard to run off.

"There was a whole heap of rain. Right underneath my window there was water. The rain fall hard, then it just ease up. The next 10 to 15 minutes it come hard again. When mi seh hard, mi mean some good showers. The whole road was covered with water. It was inundated," Beckford told the Observer.

"I did not come out of my house any at all for the whole day. From mi go in Sunday night, a Tuesday morning mi come back out. A whole heap a water inna di yard. It never mek no sense mi come out. Me and mi neighbour have to be cleaning the drain now," Beckford added.

Beckford's neighbour, who did not wish to be identified, struggled to get rid of much of the water that had settled in his yard. He blamed the authorities for tilting the road to have water run off in the direction of his house when it rained.

This property at Cornpiece in Hayes, Clarendon was flooded by rain water associated with Hurricane Ian.Joseph wellington

"Mi born and grow right yah so. In 1986 when we have the biggest rainfall inna Jamaica, mi never lay a stone fi come out a my house. We see all the hurricane dem pass and nothing like this. Whenever they fix the road, they lift the road," he said.

"They said they were trying to tilt the road to this side so the water can run into the drain, but the drain nuh stay good. Them come back and tilt the road a second time and what that did was cause the water to gather in my yard. When dem a fix the road, is like you can't give them any advice," he argued.

"Mi born and grow yah so and mi know where the water run go," he reiterated.

"On Monday, if mi never have rubber boots, mi couldn't come out a my yard. The good thing is that my house build pon a good height, so the water not going to come into my house so easy," he said.

This yard at Chateau in Clarendon is flooded in the aftermatch of the passage of Hurricane Ian. (Photo: Joseph wellington)
BY JASON CROSS Observer staff reporter crossj@jamaicaobserver.com

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