Sat | Feb 24, 2018

Portland home threatened after collapse of retaining wall

Published:Monday | November 7, 2016 | 12:00 AMGareth Davis Sr
Site of ongoing earth movement near a house at Pleasant Hill in Portland.
Keith Edwards, home owner, points to the problem that led to the collapse of a retaining wall at Pleasant Hill.
A close up look at the damage caused by earth movement near a house at Pleasant Hill.

The collapse of a retaining wall at Pleasant Hill district, Portland, during heavy rains on Saturday night has left three occupants of a two-bedroom concrete house on edge as ongoing earth shifting is now threatening their lives.

The downing of the retaining wall has also resulted in a major breakaway, which is being exacerbated by a nearby river. Earth movement is also visible and the inclement weather which has been affecting the parish over the past two weeks continues to wreak havoc on residents.

Yesterday, The Gleaner visited the area and saw the breakaway, brought about by the overnight rain, which is threatening to disrupt the home of a mother and her two children who are encountering sleepless nights during the heavy rains.

"Unless remedial work is done, I could lose my home," said Veronica Pink, the mother of the two small children.

"I have been living here for six years and the situation gets worse whenever there is a heavy downpour. It is rather frustrating for us as, even when we are wrapped up in our beds, the slightest drizzle puts us on edge as we know that a disaster is just waiting to happen," she added.

Owner of the property, Keith Edwards, told The Gleaner that the situation could have been rectified by the parish council some years ago, but that, as an agency of the State, the council is more reactive rather than proactive.

"Another heavy downpour could very well see this house ending up in the river," said Edwards, who is also a retired member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

"I have been making frequent complaints to the Portland Parish Council since 2006 about the state of the retaining wall, which is being constantly undermined by the river. I have been made all kinds of promises and, today, this is the result of their negligence and incompetence. This wall was built in the 1960s and it has aged over time. Agents of the State need to be proactive rather than reactive," he added.