Residents on the move - Trying to put their lives together, even with mud everywhere
A mud roadblock, and a massive one at that, best describes the situation the Gleaner team encountered during yesterday's attempt to get to Cornwall Barracks in the Rio Grande Valley of Portland.
At Barry Hill, residents insist that there had been a main road linking the two farming communities, up until Saturday when a landslide unlike anything they had ever experienced took out the roadway, as well as any evidence of its existence.
A mountain of mud now stands where there had been a paved road. For those who attend school and do business outside of Cornwall Barracks, it represents a literal dead end. Despite this, life, business must go on, residents insist, and in the absence of any assistance from the State, they are helping each other to adjust and cope under very trying circumstances.
PETCOM GAS DELIVERIES
With the Petcom truck scheduled to do its regular delivery and pick-up yesterday, businessman Errol Harris took the necessary action to ensure that his cooking gas customers would not be left in the cold. Hiring a taxi to take 12 empty gas cylinders from Barracks to the blocked road, he was assisted by residents who volunteered to risk the slippery and treacherous pathway to get the containers over to the Barry Hill side.
When the truck gets there and the empty cylinders are replaced with full ones, Harris will be faced with the task and additional expense of getting them back to his business place.
"We all live as one, so we just help out each other," Matthew Osbourne, one of the volunteers, explained, but Harris feels obliged to give them some token of financial reward.
"The profit margin nuh big, and by the time me a pay man fi help me carry them over and then carry them over back and pay the car fi carry them ... but that's all inna business," he said with a sigh and shrug of the shoulders.
... 'There is no alternative route - not by foot, nor by vehicle'
Taxi driver Rex Cochrane, whose minibus plies the Barracks to Port Antonio route, was also hard hit. Having brought passengers to the cut-off point, he was short-changed for the $200 trip by some, but was very understanding, given the circumstances.
"Some people pay $50, some pay $100, but some people don't have it to pay because actually they have to pay the full amount of money when they go across. A lot of us don't have it to pay to reach here, then to Port Antonio; it's very hard," he said.
Classes resumed at Titchfield High School on Monday, but second-former Dalila Lee was among the students absent.
"Whole heap, me can't even count," she replied when asked about the number of schoolmates affected.
Having advised her track and field coach of the situation by telephone, the 13-year-old was, however, hopeful they would be back in school in short order.
"By next Monday we can go a school," she opined.
Cochrane describes their situation as being "trapped".
"There is no alternative route - not by foot, nor by vehicle. We used to have a (pedestrian) swinging bridge, but river take it away about two years now and it has not been replaced. So that's the situation," he explained.