Fri | Aug 17, 2018

Rain batters Portland, livestock lost

Published:Monday | April 24, 2017 | 12:00 AMGareth Davis Sr
A tractor clearing a muddy roadway in Long Bay, Portland, yesterday.
A section of a flooded farm shared by farmers Egbert Davis and Desmond Hopewell.

The livelihood of at least three Portland farmers has been crippled following four days of heavy rainfall, which devastated dozens of hectares of fully grown banana, livestock, and other forms of quick crops.

The unfavourable weather conditions, which have been affecting the parish since Wednesday, also resulted in multiple land slippages in the eastern end of the parish, compounded by inundated roadways and flooded houses.

"I lost eight Nubian goats along with 150 fully grown chickens (poultry)," said one farmer at Long Road, who gave his name as Jasper 'Patta Cat' Hendricks.

He added: "It is a hefty loss as the goats are valued at approximately $320,000, and I was depending on the sale of these goats to pay my property tax and also to put away a portion for a rainy day. It is as if the sky opened up and someone dumped bucket loads of water on us. The chickens were ready to be plucked in another five days, but now we've lost them. We have had flooding before, but this is the worst that I have seen."

Hendricks reportedly lost his entire chicken house (coup), which was washed away by floodwaters. And while water was rising rapidly at a nearby pasture, distress cries were reportedly heard coming from goats, which were trapped in the murky water that reportedly rose to more than four feet.

Mayor of Port Antonio Paul Thompson, who toured Long Road yesterday, told The Gleaner that the pasture where the animals were left to graze was in proximity to a pond, which rises rapidly whenever it rains.

"It is rather unfortunate that livestock was lost as this is a community that is heavily dependent on farming," said Thompson.

He continued, "The loss is indeed great, and I am sure that just about every resident is in sympathy with those who lost goats, chickens, and cows."

Farmers in good spirits

Neighbouring farmers Egbert Davis and Desmond Hopewell of Long Road, who refused to have their photos taken while sharing a drink of white rum in a bar in the community, appeared to be in good spirits despite their loss of more than four hectares of fully grown banana plants, which were almost ready for harvesting.

"Rain a fall dutty tough," they both muttered.

"But give us the rum over the rain any day. Rain soon done, but we will still have the rum," added Hopewell.