Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Western Jamaica preparing for hurricane season

Published:Thursday | May 25, 2017 | 5:37 AMChristopher Thomas
A truck attempting to cross the high flood waters on the Wakefield Main Road in Trelawny, after recent heavy rains.

WESTERN BUREAU:

With the hurricane season looming on the horizon, the municipal corporations in western Jamaica are now fast tracking preparations, having recently experienced a period of erratic rainfall, which resulted in flooding in some low-lying communities in the region.

In St James, which has had a long history of flooding, especially in downtown Montego Bay, the city’s mayor, Councillor Homer Davis, said the parish’s municipal corporation is already on the move, focusing on drain-cleaning and the removal of overhanging trees in many communities.

"We have been doing some continuous drain mitigation, and we will intensify that come June,” said Davis, who is also chairman of the municipal corporation. “As it relates to the overhanging trees, we are pursuing that as we speak, so we are using the weekends, putting in the extra time to have these treacherous overhanging limbs across roadways removed."

In Westmoreland, Councillor Bertel Moore, the mayor of Savanna-la-mar, said special focus is now being placed on the Three Miles River location - a flood-prone area, which represents a major challenge whenever there is prolonged rainfall.

BIGGEST OBSTACLE

"Our biggest obstacle at the present time is the Three Miles River area, because whenever it rains heavily, that area is always flooded," said Moore. "The Three Miles River drain is not a municipal corporation drain; it is a National Works Agency drain, and I have asked them already what are their plans.”

Keneisha Dunbar, the parish disaster coordinator for Hanover, said her office is presently carrying out a public education campaign to prepare residents for the various eventualities should there be a hurricane.

"Presently, we continue to do education as it relates to the public and how best they can prepare themselves for the hurricane season," said Dunbar. "We have some relief items in storage that will supply the shelters, in the event we need to open them. We have just completed shelter inspections, and our managers are prepared in the event they are needed."

In Trelawny, Falmouth’s mayor, Councillor Colin Gager, said the parish is already on high alert and engaging in exercises such as drain cleaning.

Claudine Forbes, the disaster coordinator for St. Elizabeth, said her parish is also putting in the requisite plans to be in a state of readiness for the hurricane season.