Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Spirit of independence thrives in Seaman's Valley

Published:Thursday | January 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Farmer Headley Evans replanting a banana sucker in Seaman's Valley in the Rio Grande Valley, Portland, on Tuesday.
Farmer Headley Evans preparing for the replanting of his bananas after flood rains destroyed his farm.
Colonel Wallace Sterling of Maroone Town addressing the issues for flooding in Seaman's Valley on Tuesday.
The roads took a battering as seen by this damage in Seaman's Valley in the Rio Grande Valley, Portland, on Tuesday.

Tuesday marked the first real break in the torrential showers which had pounded Portland, among other parishes, since Saturday, triggering landslides, flooding, and washing out roads, and while most residents took the opportunity to stock up on food, medical supplies and check on loved ones, over in Seaman's Valley, Headley Evans was out in the field trying to resuscitate his banana cultivation.

"Mi cyaa wait because mi have more work fi do. If it washout againm a suh, because a God rule," he told The Gleaner news team while digging holes to replant banana suckers. "Da one ya powerful, yes," he said in acknowledging the ferocity of the flood rains which have already blocked off one community, washed out the road surface in a number of areas and disrupted utilities, while causing serious damage to houses and farming infrastructure.

Evans pointed out that experience had taught him that it made no sense to wait on government assistance, even as he acknowledged that with rain clouds hovering, his effort might be in vain.

"More time help come and wi (farmers) nuh get none. So mi naw wait pon nobody. If any come and mi get, a suh, because mi see it go so already and mi never see mi get none," he said.

Just across the road from where Evans toiled, the spirit of independence was also evident where at least four men were engaged in replacing a section of the three-inch PVC pipe main washed out by the rain.

Wallace Sterling, colonel of the Moore Town Maroons, explained that the self-help effort was critical to restoring water to a section of Windsor, Seaman's Valley, and Moore Town. The communities have been without water, but today was the first they got a chance to do anything about it.

"The rain was falling so we couldn't come out to effect the repairs, so this morning we came out and we are doing the best to repair the main so water can be restored to the affected communities, Colonel Sterling explained.




Meanwhile, Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie, on Tuesday, approved J$10 million in emergency funding to be shared between Portland, St Mary, St Ann, and Trelawny.

"I have directed that funds are to be immediately released to clear roads blocked by land slippages and any other debris that has made them impassable, and to implement any emergency road works as are necessary. Accordingly, J$3 million will be allocated to each municipal corporation of the two worst affected parishes, while the local authorities of the other two less affected parishes will receive J$2 million each," McKenzie said in a release.

He also gave the OK for municipal corporations to use their special grant for repairs to take care of emergencies as they see fit.

"We will await the damage assessment reports of the chief engineering officers of the affected municipal corporations, and thereafter develop a comprehensive road repair and rehabilitation programme," the minister added.