Tue | Jan 19, 2021

Kintyre residents not budging

Published:Friday | November 5, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Michael Gentles, a resident of Kintyre in St Andrew, points to homes he says were not on the gully bank until after the Hope River had eaten away much of the land.

Despite repeated appeals from public officials and memories of the punishing nature of the Hope River, several residents of Kintyre yesterday decided to stay put as Tropical Storm Tomas approached.

Their decision came even though their houses remained precariously perched on the banks of the river.

"Leave and go where? Why me should leave?" asked a man identified only as Daddy Lee, whose house sits in premises at Lot 210 Hope Street where several houses have already been claimed by the raging Hope River.

"The shelter where me suppose to go (Kintyre Community Centre) is just up the road and if necessary me will go up there but right now me nah leave," Daddy Lee told The Gleaner during light rains yesterday afternoon.

"Me know say me still in danger but me nah sleep. You see if we did a go get hit by the full hurricane, me would move but me used to little breeze blow," the elderly man added, even as the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management repeated its warning for persons in high-risk communities to evacuate.

Metres away, also on Hope Street, 84-year-old Telma Gentles seemed resigned to her fate as she rested in her room high above the Hope River.

Watched helplessly

In September, Gentles watched helplessly as rains associated with Tropical Storm Nicole swelled the river, causing it to bite away much of what was her backyard and at least two buildings in the premises.

At that time, she told The Gleaner that she wanted to be relocated but remained at the same spot yesterday.

With the bank of the river less than a stone's throw away from her room, Gentles and her son Michael were not prepared to leave the place they have called home for 50 years.

While the elderly woman looked on with worry etched on her face, her son told The Gleaner that they had decided to "stick out" Tomas.

"We have place we can go still but she rather stay here because she more comfortable," said Michael.

"We a stick it out and fight the good fight," added Michael as he pointed to the area where other houses and several fruit trees once stood.

With 14 people dead when Nicole grazed the island in late September, the Government has moved to prevent a repeat by urging persons in low-lying and flood-prone areas to evacuate.

Like other administrations before, the Bruce Golding Government has toyed with the idea of forceful evacuation of persons in at-risk communities.

But there is no law on the books to allow the Government to order persons to evacuate in the face of a natural disaster.

Up to late yesterday, with Tomas slated to pass closer to the island than originally projected, only a handful of persons had moved into emergency shelters.

- A. H.