Wed | Jun 3, 2020

Rain batters Portland - Landslides leave families homeless

Published:Saturday | April 23, 2016 | 2:00 PMGareth Davis Sr
Residents try to make their way across a flooded street in Port Antonio last Friday.
A section of the Seaman’s Valley main road in the Rio Grande Valley, which was ravaged by the flood waters last week.

A family of four, including a six-year-old girl, is now homeless following a landslide, which covered their four-bedroom house at Mill Bank in the upper Rio Grande Valley in Portland, as heavy rains continue to lash the eastern parish last Friday into yesterday.

The frightening experience as described by 63-year-old Owen Campbell, owner of concrete and wooden structure, started shortly after 6:30 p.m. last Friday, while he, his wife Inez and grandchild were studying in preparation for the Sabbath day of rest.

"I heard a scraping sound on the roof, which got my attention," said Campbell.

"At first I thought it was the rainfall, so I said to my wife, how is it that the rain is sounding so heavy on the housetop? So I went outside to have a look and it was then that I realised that the hillside had collapse and was on top of the house. The scraping sound, which I heard earlier, was the landslide (earth) squashing the roofing," added Campbell.

He said he hurriedly grabbed his wife and grandchild and made a hasty retreat, just before the roof caved in under pressure from pile of dirt.

temporary residence

Since then, the husband, wife, and granddaughter have taken up temporary residence in a small shed near what used to be their family home.

"I am desperately in need of help. Everything is covered in mud, including television, refrigerator, microwave, DVD player, beds, gas stove, and a radio.

"We spent the entire night in the shed, which was extremely uncomfortable, and we were so scared. And with rains continuing, our lives are in danger," said Campbell.

The disastrous situation in the Rio Grande Valley is seemingly getting worse, with reports of three other houses being covered by mud in the Mill Bank community.

Late yesterday, our news team received a report that a man was stranded atop his house in that community, where a section of that roadway is reportedly cut off.

The loss of a swinging bridge linking the community of Ginger House and Cornwall Barracks, which is a shorter journey on foot for residents, has further compounded the problems caused by the inclement weather.

It means that residents now have to walk approximately five miles to get to either community.

In the meantime, Member of Parliament for Eastern Portland Dr Lynvale Bloomfield told The Sunday Gleaner that a technical team from the National Works Agency was scheduled to tour sections of the Rio Grande Valley yesterday to have a look at the damage done to the road network.

"The Seaman's Valley main road, which underwent major rehabilitation last year, has been ripped up," said Bloomfield.

"Approximately $150 million was spent to rehabilitate 7.83 kilometres of roadway from Fellowship to Moore Town. Clearly, remedial work has to be done in short order, and I am hoping that emergency funds will be provided to deal with at least some of the damages. It is a sad day for Portland, and more so a worse one for the people of the Rio Grande Valley," added Bloomfield.

Last Friday, classes were suspended at several schools in the eastern end of parish as a result of the inclement weather, which also left a number of roads impassable.

Minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister Daryl Vaz has been tasked with leading the relief efforts.