Clarendon man recalls rescuing 15 persons from flooded house
Horace Fisher, Gleaner Writer
MAY PEN, Clarendon:SOME 26 years ago Clifford 'Jus' Dixon bravely rescue 15 frightened occupants from a flooded house on Penguin Key Street in May Pen, Clarendon, during the devastating 1986 June floods that killed more than 50 persons across the island.
According to Dixon, who was then a maintenance supervisor at the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), while at work on June 6 at the JPS office on Manchester Avenue in May Pen, a distress call came that persons were trapped in flood waters at the intersection of Penguin Key Street and Chapelton Road.
Amid the pelting rain, rolling thunder and flashes of lightning, Dixon rushed to the scene only to find a house partially submerged in a roaring, raging river, with its occupants frantically pleading for help. The JPS supervisor quickly tied a length of rope to a tree across from the stricken house and courageously moved through the neck-deep, fast-moving flood waters until he reached the house.
Upon reaching the house, Dixon tied the other end of the rope to the house and single-handedly began pulling the emperiled people to safety at the risk of his own live.
"The first person I took from the house was a young baby, no more than a couple days old, and then I returned for the baby's mother," Dixon related to The Gleaner. "I have to carefully hold the baby in one hand and with my other I pulled on the rope until I safely reached the other side with the baby."
Added Dixon: "After I rescued the baby and her mother, I returned for an old man and then an old lady before I rescued some young ladies from the house, all by myself, one by one, until everybody was safe."
Dixon's heroism saved a one-month-old child, eight kids, a pregnant woman, an elderly man and a woman, along with some teenagers. He said the rescue is an incident he will never forget, especially when there were so many onlookers, including a fire truck and crew, just standing by, doing nothing,
Edith Chin, who is one of the persons Dixon saved during the horrendous June floods, said that his timely arrival and gallant intervention saved all 15 lives on the 6th of June 1986.
"I am just thankful Mr Dixon conquered that monstrous flood water and bravely came to our rescue. One by one, he took us through the raging water, clutching us or being clutched by us, as we desperately clung to him for dear life," recalled a gracious Edith Chin, who is now the proprietor of the Juici Patty fast-food chain.