Thu | Feb 25, 2021

‘Government suppose to fix the river bank’ - Port Maria resident adamant that she will not relocate despite being flooded out several times

Published:Monday | January 25, 2021 | 12:10 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
Joyce McKenzie.
Joyce McKenzie.
A section of the Otram River in Port Maria
A section of the Otram River in Port Maria

The Otram river, which flows through the centre of the St Mary capital of Port Maria, is the main reason why the town has been flooded on several occasions and remains of great concern to residents in and around the town.

Over the years, business places have been flooded out with water damaging or soiling goods in some of these stores, resulting in millions of dollars in losses.

Beyond what has transpired in Port Maria proper, however, there are persons living in communities on the banks of the river who have also suffered significantly over the years.

One such resident is Joyce McKenzie of Cox Street who has lived on the bank of the river for decades. Up to last year, she was flooded out as the river overflowed its banks following heavy showers.

“Mi live here long time,” she told The Gleaner, as she sat comfortably on her veranda, the sound of the rushing river coming from around the backyard.

She has been flooded out on several occasions over the years, but cannot recall the date of the first flood. However, the last occasion was still fresh in her mind.

“Mi can’t recall when, but when the flood come first time, it neva come inna di house, it only come inna di yard. But di last time when it come, it come right up inna di house. It cover off di veranda, yuh couldn’t see di veranda. The whole ah di house flooded out, mash up all mi fridge, mi curtain, everything. Dem haffi jus’ throw dem out. The last flood, that is last year I believe,” she disclosed.

Despite being flooded out several times, McKenzie, exhibiting the stubbornness of a typical Jamaican living in a flood-prone area, said she is staying put.

“No, mi cyaa get no weh else. Right yah suh a family land dis, suh a right yah suh mi a stay. The government suppose to fix the river bank, for if the river bank fix, then we won’t have this flooding,” McKenzie asserted.

Over the years, the authorities have done work on the river, with several sections showing that river training has taken place.