Thu | Aug 24, 2017

Foster mom shields kids from Matthew

Published:Tuesday | October 4, 2016 | 10:00 AMJovan Johnson
Kevin Scott (left), Roy Tate (second left), Clayton Lindo and Carlton Manning at Michael Black's coconut farm in Lyssons, St Thomas, yesterday.

Yallahs, St Thomas:

An angry, roaring sea she's not seen for the past two years convinced Moira Morgan, 62, to leave her house on Shallay Lane along the Yallahs coast and make the trek across the road to the Yallahs Primary School shelter with her five foster children.

The Ireland-born Jamaican caregiver of four decades said ensuring the safety of the five, especially from the potential harm of Hurricane Matthew now making its way past Jamaica's east coast, was also critical.

"We've come up because we're the last house there (Shallay Lane) before the sea. Were it not somebody else's children, I might have taken a chance and stayed down there," she told The Gleaner, sitting in a classroom as strong winds and heavy rains beat against the roof.

"The sea is higher than I've seen it in the 18 months we've been here. I know we've not had any storms, but I've not seen it this wild. It kinda have this strange behaviour that I haven't seen before. It just keeps rolling in, you know how the waves go in and come out, but [in this case] they're not coming out."

She added: "My fear is that when it (Matthew) does draw near, it's coming in with a big wave."

Morgan, who worked in Jamaica's inner cities for most of the 40 years, said she has been caring for some of the children - all under 16 - for at least seven years.

Matthew, meanwhile, has delayed Morgan's efforts to put to use a washing machine she received from a donor on Friday.

Matthew is expected to dump up to 20 inches of rain on St Thomas and Portland.

Storm surges of two to four feet are also expected.

"I'm trusting in God that everything will be fine," Morgan said.

Hoping things will be fine extended to her "sicky puppy" that shelter staff had to remove from a common room and away from contact with residents.

Pets and other animals are banned from shelters.

Morgan and her five foster children joined more than 1,000 St Thomas residents who took to shelters.

Kevin Scott and four of his co-workers were among some, however, who did not retreat to shelters, as they camped out at Michael Black's coconut farm in Nutts River, Lyssons, monitoring how the storm would affect their livelihood.

Scott, Clayton Lindo, Carlton Manning, and Roy Tate told The Gleaner they hoped that Matthew's passage would not see a repeat of Hurricane Gilbert's devastation in 1988.

"Gilbert left wi bad, man, and we just a come back good-good yah now," Lindo said.

The authorities in St Thomas have expressed concern about how flood-prone areas such as Dalvey, Audley, sections of Leith Hall, Prospect, Morant Bay and Yallahs will fare as Matthew makes it way past Jamaica.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com