Thu | Nov 26, 2020

Trapped! - Dallas Castle, Cane River residents bemoan state of roadway after heavy rainfall associated with Tropical Storm Laura

Published:Tuesday | September 1, 2020 | 12:07 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
A resident shows the now-impassable road to Cane River, which was completely eroded by the river following heavy rains in the area, on Monday, August 24.
A resident shows the now-impassable road to Cane River, which was completely eroded by the river following heavy rains in the area, on Monday, August 24.

IT HAS been just over a week since a very crucial thoroughfare in Dallas Castle, St Andrew, was washed away by heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Laura, leaving residents on edge and fearful that in the event of an emergency, they would be trapped.

A section of the Dallas Castle main road, which is referred to as Parish Mango, resembles a very rocky dirt track, leading into a river. But according to residents, it was a properly functioning roadway prior to the heavy rainfall. The Gleaner witnessed representatives from the National Works Agency (NWA) assessing the area last week Monday after the road had broken away, but to date, the only action to clear debris was carried out by residents. They said they were not able to remove the fallen light poles.

AFFECTED LOCATIONS

Chief Executive Officer at the NWA E.G. Hunter announced last week Monday evening that teams from the agency had been mobilised to carry out repairs on 20 locations and communities across the island that were affected and that the works would cost approximately $54 million, which would come directly out of the NWA’s budget. However, when The Gleaner contacted NWA’s Communications Manager, Stephen Shaw, he said that the number of locations that experienced damage had risen to more than 30 and, therefore, would require much more than the $54 million. However, he could not definitively say how much more it would cost.

Shaw told The Gleaner on Sunday: “We did some work to clear landslides off the road, but that breakaway is a different kettle of fish. We have to do significant work there. From my own view of the situation, it is going to take a lot to sort it through.”

RIVER TRAINING

Resident of the community K’adamawe A. H. K’nife said that the destruction underscored the urgent need for river training. He said river training had started, but over time, unscrupulous persons eager to earn a buck removed the boulders, which acted as a guard for the roadway against water. To assist the elderly, who are practically stuck at home, K’nife collaborated on Friday with the Digicel Foundation and the Social Development Commission to provide these persons with essential items such as toiletries and food.

“One primary reason is because of the absence of river training although river training was done before in some of these places, and then persons took out the stones. You have a lot of elderly people across the community. Entry and exit out of these places is extremely important. This road is really a main road that connects you from Nine Miles to the University of the West Indies gate. This is not something you can make stay for a long while. You also have a large population of persons who live in the space, probably about eight thousand persons between Dallas and Cane River falls. If that road is not repaired, that could cause serious problems for persons. I am talking about people who might be sick because elderly people have lifestyle illnesses.”

PLEA FOR HELP

For the security of Dallas Castle and surrounding regions, resident of Cane River Derrick Reid appealed to the NWA to give the roadway priority.

“From the rain fall Sunday, all of the roads have been torn and mash down, and I don’t see anyone personally come to clear the road that if somebody sick or anything they can come out. I think it should [have been] done already because it is almost a week now since it happened. I don’t see anyone. That means anything can happen inna di community and not even police or soldier can’t come een, only walk foot. All a di road dem chop off. There are around three part inna di community mi see like dat.”

President of the Dallas community development council Evan Rhoden told The Gleaner that he has lobbied for repairs to be done to the area, noting that there are numerous other spots along the journey from Nine Miles to Dallas Castle that have been badly damaged and, therefore, are impassable for the heavy-duty vehicles needed to carry out the works.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com