Mon | Dec 18, 2017

Survival struggle - Portland man makes home under bridge on the Buff Bay River

Published:Sunday | October 8, 2017 | 12:00 AMGareth Davis Sr
Anthony Johnson standing outside his makeshift house underneath a bridge in Buff Bay, Portland.

He claims he had to flee his house in fear of persecution, now Anthony Johnson lives under a bridge in Buff Bay, Portland, in the most inhumane condition.

Johnson's situation is compounded by the lurking danger of a nearby river which oftentimes rises to levels that leave his makeshift cardboard house flooded, while washing away everything in its pathway.

"I am forced to live here, as I have nowhere else to go," Johnson told The Sunday Gleaner.

"I fled Mount Pleasant as my life was under threat from residents, who were determined to attack me as a result of my brother stealing from them. I fled that community one night and I ended up here four years ago.

"I have been living here since in this place known to me as my home. I have no bathroom, no electricity, and no running water. But I have to eat and sleep and this is the only available spot," added Johnson.

He noted that whenever the river rises he has to make a hasty retreat and spend the night along the roadway, while facing the embarrassment of being chased and beaten by some residents.

According to Johnson, the level of abuse and insults hurled at him has been a nightmare but he has managed to maintain his integrity by resisting the temptation of stealing.

 

NEVER UNKIND

 

"Most times I am starving, but the teachings of my mother keep me from stealing. I have been harassed and called all sorts of names, but I have never repeated an unkind word to anyone.

"I have endured many a cold night and hunger, and I am hoping that some day, somehow, that someone will assist me to get a house at a better location. Whenever it rains I cannot sleep, as I have to be watching the river and getting ready to evacuate," said Johnson.

His small house made from cardboard covered by cloth, which is used to keep out the cold, is neatly perched on a pile of river stones and supported by what appears to be a door.

Inside, an old single bed with a dirty mattress, items of clothing and a wash pan are the only indications that someone lives there.

Barefooted and clad in a stained well-worn denim pants, a red T-shirt worn as an undershirt, and a discoloured dark-looking long-sleeved shirt, Johnson easily jumped from stone to stone along the river-bed, while outlining his plight to our news team.

In the background, two women were seen washing along the banks of the Buff Bay River.

While putting on a brave face, Johnson said he is hoping that help will come his way soon as every day it rains his situation gets more life-threatening.