Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Portland family fearful following landslide

Published:Tuesday | September 9, 2014 | 9:00 AM
Eleven-year-old Sashana Hill helps her grandmother, Mavis Griffiths (left), clear water and mud from the living room at her home in Belle View, Portland. .- Photo by Gareth Davis

Gareth Davis Sr, Gleaner Writer

Belle View, Portland:

A mother of four is now crying out for assistance to relocate after her four-bedroom house was inundated by muddy water following a massive landslide at Belle View in the Rio Grande Valley in Portland Sunday night.

The nightmarish ordeal, according to Ann-Marie Mullings, started about 9 p.m. Sunday and lasted for nearly six hours, which forced the nine occupants to evacuate their homes, seeking refuge next door with other family members.

"I just can't stay here," commented Mullings.

"We are living in fear and, with each drop of rain, I expect to hear more earth tumbling down. I was born here, but after 40 years, I am willing to relocate, as I value my life and my children's lives more than anything else.

"The entire four-bedroom house was covered in mud and water. I am still haunted by Sunday night's ordeal, and my nerves appear to be rattled. I am pleading with the authorities to assist me in relocating, as it could very well be that the next time around, all that will be left are just bodies."

According to Mullings, with no assistance from her children's fathers, she basically has to fend for them. And with two girls - 14-year-old Tashana Hill and 11-year-old Sashana Hill - attending Titchfield High and Fellowship Primary schools, respectively, Mullings said she has to ensure that both girls get a proper education in a friendlier environment, where they are comfortable and are not bothered by the forces of nature.

Seven months of drought

Sunday night's heavy downpour represents a somewhat welcome change in the weather pattern for residents in the eastern parish, who have encountered more than seven months of drought conditions and a near-unbearable heat, which not only damaged hundreds of acres of crops, but also left several communities without piped water.

After battling with the mud for more than three hours, the family fled their homes shortly after midnight Monday, as rocks came tumbling down, which forced a back door open, as water came rushing in with a force.

And by daylight, when the rain had subsided, Mullings realised that a coop containing 12 pigeons had gone missing.

During a search, the coop was found downhill at the entrance to the house, without the pigeons. A further check revealed that the floor of a nearby chicken coop was covered in mud and, according to Mullings, she hastily put in some makeshift shelves, where her 50 chickens are now safe, at least for the time being.

Mullings said: "I rear chickens to take care of my children. I need help and I am not going to stay at this location any longer. I am appealing to the prime minister. Please, we need to be relocated and I am living in fear. This land belongs to my mother, but with Sunday night's landslide, I am now living on edge."