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Stranded in Jamaica - Mom, Matthew stuck in shelter for storm after British travel documents stolen

Published:Monday | October 3, 2016 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson
Jodi-Ann Campbell and her son, Matthew Adeyemi, at the Manchoniel All-Age School in Portland yesterday.
Despite being in a shelter, four-year-old Matthew Adeyemi (left) and five-year-old Aviana Taylor had something to smile about at the Manchioneal All-Age School in Portland.

Jodiann Campbell, a 31-year-old resident of London, England, was a picture of worry yesterday as she stood outside the Manchioneal All-Age School in Portland, one of several shelters set up in the eastern parish.

Campbell and her four-year-old son, Matthew, have been stuck in Jamaica for the past three weeks after their travel documents were allegedly stolen from her purse during a trip to downtown Kingston.

The two were supposed to be in the island for three weeks to visit Campbell's mother and other relatives in Manchioneal.

But more than two weeks past their departure date, the mother yesterday found herself in the leaking shelter, pondering how to provide for her son a cooked meal as a hurricane bearing his name ploughs towards Jamaica.

"It's awful! Now I'm thinking that my son needs a hot meal; where am I going to get a hot meal from? The electricity is going to go soon. What's going to happen? And mosquitoes, what if something should break out? How are we going to cope?" bemoaned Campbell, as her son frolicked unperturbed among some 20 persons, children included, who turned in to the shelter early.

"I want to go home. I should be home, and now I've found myself in a shelter and the shelter is even leaking right above our heads. The water just keeps pouring down and it's not a good experience at all," said Campbell, who migrated from Jamaica 12 years ago.

Campbell said some weeks ago, she had taken a bus from Half-Way Tree in St Andrew and sat beside a woman. When she arrived downtown, she realised her and her son's travel documents and other valuables were missing from her purse.

"They just picked it. I think it was a lady who picked it, really," she said.




She also expressed uncertainty about what Hurricane Matthew will bring.

"I'm hearing all types of stories. People say it is going to rain, the sea is going to come over, everything is going to blow away, and you just don't know what to expect," she said, worried.

Yesterday, while Matthew soaked up the new experience, enjoying the attention because of his name, Campbell and her mother hoped the hurricane would not jeopardise an application to the British High Commission to allow them re-entry to London without their documents.

At the shelter, though, 64-year-old Joyce Kenton and others worried about a shortage of food, and their inability to track the hurricane, as they were without a television or radio.

In the nearby Long Road community in Portland, Paul Brown and about a dozen other men prepared for the hurricane by downing flasks of rum and chaser.

"We do what need to do already, man. The storm doesn't really trouble we. It is people down at Manchioneal who usually get it the worst. We deh pon the high up here so," he said.

Residents of Hector's River, not far away, were far more concerned about their fate, however.

Throughout that community, hammers clanged on zinc sheets under a light drizzle.

"Right now, I pack up my things dem - everything in my house. I packed dem up already, and I cover dem so that if the roof flies off, they won't wet up. Right now, I am just watching what is going on because I'm not staying here. I am taking away myself to the shelter," said Gwendolyn Brown, making reference to the Happy Grove High School.

Late yesterday afternoon, Aron Grant, a security guard charged with overseeing that shelter, said that while the seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-grade classrooms have been made available for residents, none had turned up yet.