By Monique Hepburn, Staff Reporter
ONE MAN was swept away in swirling waters and dozens of
flooded as Jamaica's south coast suffered from the impact of Hurricane Charley between Wednesday afternoon and early yesterday morning.
The man, Bryan Barrett, 32, was swept away by the raging flood waters as
he attempted to rescue his family from rising waters. His body has since been recovered.
St. Elizabeth was the parish hardest hit, as on Wednesday night several communities were flooded, leaving scores of residents stranded, many on their rooftops.
MILLIONS IN DAMAGE
Communities such as Treasure Beach, Pedro Plains, Bull Savannah, Southfield, Ridge Pen, Congo Hole and Bigwoods suffered millions of dollars in damage mainly to roads, dwellings and farmlands.
Many residents had to flee Bigwoods by 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday as heavy rains and wind gusts lashed the farming community. Within two hours, many houses were flooded out. Residents had to take refuge on their roofs from the rising water. Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Area Council Four chairman Dr. Christopher Tufton said that some communities should be declared disaster areas.
Yvonne Morrison, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) disaster co-ordinator for St. Elizabeth, said yesterday that her team was in the process of conducting an assessment of damage as well as the need for relief assistance.
However, she said these efforts were hampered by the fact that her team did not have access to many of the dwellings affected by the flood rains. "We expect to continue our assessment during the course of the week or until the water recedes. In the meantime though, we are distributing mattresses and food packages," she said.
Thirteen families, consisting of 33 persons, took shelter at the Bull Savannah Primary School, as their houses were flooded by heavy rains caused by Hurricane Charley which swept by the southern coast of the island Wednesday, strengthened and headed towards the Cayman Islands and Florida, USA.
A pregnant Nyola Lawrence told The Gleaner that she had to leave the shelter because she believed she had started to experience labour pains. "I started to feel pain so I know I couldn't stay there any longer. I don't know what I am going to do because all of my things (were) flooded out," she said. Miss Lawrence was one of several Bull Savannah residents who received relief packages from the ODPEM team yesterday.
When The Gleaner's news team visited Bigwoods yesterday, several persons were seen gathered at the entrance to the community, which is cut off from the rest of the parish and is inaccessible to vehicular traffic. Those gathered were anxious for word about their relatives who were said to be marooned inside the community.
"We don't hear anything yet but a boat sent from the parish council gone inside to assist people to come out," said Carlington Linton.