Sun | Nov 29, 2020

‘It’s a shame’ - Willowdene cries for relief after two decades of flooding

Published:Tuesday | October 27, 2020 | 12:19 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer

Trapped inside their houses by rising floodwaters, residents in a section of Willowdene in Spanish Town, St Catherine, have had to pool their resources to cover the $48,000 fee charged by a backhoe operator to give them some relief as water began creeping into their homes.

It was a frightful experience for Gath Campbell, a physically challenged returned resident who lives on Executive Way in the community.

“I have resettled here for over 10 years now, and the continuous rainfall has exposed the long-standing problem we have been experiencing in Willowdene,” he told The Gleaner.

“I had to be sweeping water out of my bedroom. Everyone along this road suffered the same fate. On Sunday, we were marooned in our houses, unable to go in our yards because the floodwaters were all the way into our homes,” he added, pointing out that residents along Executive Way had to pitch in to pay the backhoe operator.

As the rains converted streets into rivers on the weekend, Chanel Campbell, who lives along Kentucky Drive, said she had to stay inside her house until yesterday, waiting for floodwaters to subside before venturing outdoors.

“We have no road whatsoever,” she lamented. “It gets worse since the rains started. We need help. Not even taxis want to take a chance driving on the flooded roads.”

Valci Gordon of Gilford Drive said the flooding problem has been a recurring nuisance since she began living there in 2010.

“We have tried everything, including writing letters to the authorities, and nothing has been done. We are tired of the neglect. We paid our property taxes and nobody cares about the infrastructure in this community. It’s a shame,” she told The Gleaner.

Dwayne Ellis, president of the Willowdene Citizens’ Association, is hoping for action.

“We were marooned in our homes during Sunday’s heavy rains. If we ventured outdoors, we had to go through knee-high floodwaters on most of the streets in the community,” he said. “We have been experiencing this problem for over 20 years now. The association has written several letters to the member of parliament, the National Works Agency and even the prime minister, outlining the problem, and we have not got as much as a response.”

Ellis said the problem was largely due to the lack of maintenance of the major drains in the community, blaming the flooding for the huge craters in some of the roads in the community.

St Catherine South Western Member of Parliament Dr Andrew Wheatley told The Gleaner that plans were afoot to tackle all the roads in the various communities in the constituency, including Willowdene.

He said work had already started on two roads but that the heavy rains have restricted progress.