Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator
Portlanders struggle to recover after hurricane
Hurricane Sandy reduced the community of Manchioneal in Portland almost to rubble. A week later, tears still stained the faces of many of the residents who were in disbelief that in such hard times, fate would be so cruel.
They have been hit hard by several natural disasters over the years, but many agreed that last Wednesday's Category One hurricane, which they admit to underestimating, was the worst.
"Gilbert couldn't compare. Sandy a di boss. Who fi move, she just move. She just come without warning and siddung pon we fi 'bout six hours and tear down everything flat," 43-year-old Donovan Marriott told The Gleaner.
The seaside community of Sandshore in Manchioneal was a picture of disaster. Some residents didn't know where or how to begin putting their lives back together.
Devon Richards, his common-law-wife, Donna Withworth, and her five children have nothing left but the foundation on which their three-bedroom house once stood and whatever few belongings Sandy was gracious enough to leave behind.
"This one worse than the others, believe you me," said Withworth.
HOUSE VIBRATES VIOLENTLY
Richards said last Wednesday afternoon, they were inside the house when the hurricane made landfall. Suddenly, the house began to vibrate violently.
"Me neva like how it feel, so mi seh to har, 'Come go over next door'. 'Bout 15 minutes after we leave, mi look out and see the house flat and everything a blow wey," he said.
They tried to save their furniture and belongings, but everything was destroyed and several items, including pieces of the board and zinc house, were blown away.
Withworth's children are now taking refuge with their grandfather, while herself and her partner 'kotch' in a board structure on their premises, pondering how to rebuild.
"Manchioneal was devastated. There was so much wind, things were flying like kite. People were running to other people house in the hurricane after their roof blow off," said 68-year-old Elaine Burnett.
"Gilbert was bad, but it wasn't as bad as Sandy. Gilbert came with the sea, but Sandy came for house and housetop. Sandy took your zinc and anything else and carry it miles away."
Burnett was forced to seek refuge with a neighbour after her roof was blown off.
"When I came back and look at my house, I had to cry," she said.
Hysterical and crying uncontrollably during the passage of the hurricane, seven-year-old Kalecia Gibson was terrified that her mother was going to die.
"I was afraid for Mommy when I didn't see her," said the youngster, clinging to her mother, Alashia Parker.
Standing in front of their roofless house, Parker said she was at home not expecting a terrible storm, while her daughter was next door.
"Everything happen so sudden. Mi inside when mi see the top just blow off. Mi affi run out go next door. Mi never expect it to be this bad at all," she said.
Her father, Glenford Parker, tried to hold down the roof, but he couldn't match Sandy's mighty strength and eventually, he had to let go, watching as the wind swept it away.
By the Manchioneal All-Age School yesterday, 34 of the 77 persons who took refuge there were still in shelter. On Sunday, they were moved from the classrooms to the community centre to allow school to reopen.
SEEKING RELIEF SUPPLIES
Peppering the school compound, scores of persons were patiently waiting for relief supplies they heard were coming.
"This morning, word a mouth spread say wi must go over school one o'clock 'cause people a come with mattress and some tings, but a afta three now, and we don't see nobody yet," said Angella Watson from the community of Forth, who lost her roof.
"A four o'clock them say now," noted Marvalyn Anderson, also from Forth, whose house was flattened.
That community was also badly hit. In fact, up and down Portland's coastline was a picture of the devastation many felt. Residents from areas such as Grange Hill, Long Bay, Orange Bay, Bybrook, Skibo, Tranquility, Spring Hill and Black Hill had their own tales to tell, but words weren't needed. Their ravaged homes spoke loud and clear.
While there was still no electricity for several Portland residents, Jamaica Public Service crews were busy at work in different sections of the parish.