Thu | Apr 19, 2018

Mayor blames sinkholes for flooding

Published:Monday | March 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Mayor of Montego Bay Homer Davis

WESTERN BUREAU:

Montego Bay Mayor Homer Davis says choked-up sinkholes in proximity to Cornwall College played a major role in the flooding that impacted the western city last Friday, and he wants the matter to be addressed to prevent a recurrence.

"Up by Cornwall College is a perennial problem as there is no drain up there," said Davis.

"There are some sinkholes in the cemetery, which can accommodate only so much and no more water at any one time, and when water catches into that basin, it stays there until the sinkholes take it away."

The area between Cornwall College and Mt Alvernia High School, which sits in a valley below elevated communities such as Paradise Acres and Mango Walk, forms a natural catchment whenever it rains. Whenever there is normal rainfall, the sinkholes in the cemetery behind Mt Alvernia quickly drain the water away. However, in major downpours like last Friday's, the area, to include the roadway, is usually flooded.

"The water comes from all the way up in Paradise Acres, Mango Walk, and sections of Albion and those nearby areas, and it just forms a big pool there. It has to be addressed, although I don't know how they are going to address it," said Davis.

In addition to the areas in proximity to Cornwall College, the roadway near the Rubis gas station on St James Street in downtown Montego Bay and the corridor near the Sangster International Airport were also flooded. The city experienced flooding of a greater magnitude four months ago following similar heavy rains.

In defence of the St James Municipal Corporation drain-cleaning programme, the mayor flatly rejected claims that blocked drains contributed to Friday's flooding, saying that the corporation has an ongoing drain-cleaning programme and the drains were in good order.

"The flooding wasn't because of blocked drains; it was because of the influx of water as a result of the rain. When the rain fell on Friday, the basins on the South Gully and at the top of the North Gully were in the process of being cleaned, and the drain-cleaning programme is an ongoing programme," said Davis.

The St James Municipal Corporation is in discussion with other government agencies to examine Montego Bay's 40-year-old drainage system, which has been significantly impacted by the city's population growth.