Tue | Feb 20, 2018

Some Jamaicans taking Matthew seriously, utilising shelters

Published:Tuesday | October 4, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Despite the slow pace of Hurricane Matthew, some persons weren't waiting until the last minute to get to shelters yesterday.

At the National Arena, Red Cross of Jamaica personnel noted a steady stream of persons coming in from Sunday. Among those who spent the night in safety was Sandra Clarke, her husband and two children. They left the often-flooded Kintyre district on Sunday afternoon.

"It (the house) is down by the riverside, so we knew we couldn't stay there," said Clarke. "But we are comfortable here. And our things back home are secure."

Suzanne Scarlett from the Red Cross commended persons for coming in early.

"I think people are a little more cautious this time. We have seen more people coming than at the same period last hurricane," she said.


Scarlett expressed confidence they had enough cots, blankets and food for anyone seeking shelter. The theme of persons leaving their homes early continued at the Paradise Street Basic School in Rae Town.

Raymond Harvey, 79, a retired fisherman, said he was taking no chances.

"I came in last night (Sunday) when I hear dem talking about dis horrible thing coming," he said.

"Where I live not so wholesome, so dem say prevention better than cure."

The early childhood institution was not originally designated a hurricane shelter, but residents have worked together to make it hospitable.

Kimeka 'Nuffy' Rainford, who led the initiative, pleaded for assistance from the public.

"We woulda love if people coulda give we like sponge or mattress for people to sleep on," she said, noting that up to yesterday morning, they had more than 10 persons at the shelter and expected many more.

"We have the space for more people, man. We can move around the classroom furniture and we can small up wi self. Memba we a ghetto people."

Over in Portmore, the shelter managers reported a steady flow of persons registering.

Baldwin Tracey, shelter manager at Gregory Park Primary, noted persons were mostly concerned about flooding in areas such as Christian Pen and Bangor Gully. His counterpart, Earl Roberts, at the Portmore HEART Academy, noted that the shelter started registering persons from as early as 4 p.m. on Sunday, just minutes after opening.

"We've spoken to the dorm manager here at the academy, and she is extending the use of the facilities to us if needs be," he said.

"Plus, the municipality officials are on alert if more cots and mattresses are needed."