By John Myers Jr. and Erica James-King, Staff Reporters
DESPITE THE island being spared a direct hit from Hurricane Charley, the country's emergency systems were put to work as strong winds and raging waters associated with the incle-ment weather system caused damage to utilities, homes, roads and agricultural crops, especially in southern and western parishes.
The water supply and electricity systems in the southwestern end of the island, took a heavy beating, leaving several communities in that end of the island without light and water.
"A total of 12 systems in St. Elizabeth are down at this moment as a result of the hurricane. In some cases water has damaged our pumps or have flooded out others," Lisa Golding, communications manager for the National Water Commission's (NWC) Western Region, told The Gleaner yesterday, adding that "because of no electricity supply, some of our pumps are also not functioning at this time."
As a result, several communities served by the Hounslou pumping station, Pedro Plains and Pedro Cross water systems, the Little Park pumping station, and New Forrest pumping station in St. Elizabeth are now without water.
A similar situation now exists in St. James and Hanover as a result of high turbidity of the water. The NWC said it was forced to cut production by half. Communities in Montego Bay, Hopewell, Sandy Bay and environs are now experiencing low water pressure or no water.
DISRUPTION IN THE ELECTRICITY SUPPLY
Winsome Callum, the corporate communications manager of the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), yesterday blamed broken power lines and electricity poles displaced by flood water and collapsed trees for the disruption in the electricity supply to sections of St. Elizabeth and Manchester.
"St. Elizabeth and Manchester remain problematic as there are still areas we cannot access to remedy the problems with the power lines owing to eroded roads or flood waters," Ms. Callum said. She, however, noted that power would have been restored by late yesterday to sections of Westmoreland and Hanover where lines were affected by strong winds.
The agricultural sector was not spared. Senator Norman Grant, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), said preliminary reports from farmers showed that there was minor damage to crops and livestock, but pointed out that the Treasure Beach area in St. Elizabeth was the worst hit as farmers lost both livestock and crops.
He said that there were also reports of damage in Clarendon as farmers in the parish reported losses to cash crops such as cabbage, banana and plantain. Senator Grant said that there was also minor crop damage in St. Thomas.
Meanwhile the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) reported yesterday that its search and rescue team from the Manchester Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) had to rescue 30 families who were marooned as a result of flooding in Bigwoods and Old Bottom, Tryall in St. Elizabeth. The ODPEM said an elderly man who was trapped inside his house was also rescued by the team in the Duff House area of Manchester.
Also yesterday, The National Meteorological Service lifted the hurricane warning that was in effect for the island, as Hurricane Charley moved north-westwardly away from Jamaica towards the United States mainland.
Gleaner Writer Rayon Dyer and Staff Reporter Dionne Rose contributed to this story.