Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
THIRTY-THREE YEARS after being declared a condemned area by the Government of Jamaica, the district of Chigwell, Hanover, remains fully occupied, and there is very little indication that this will change anytime soon.
In the deep rural farming community, which is best known for its long history of flooding - inclusive of the devastating flood rains of June, 1979, residents are today divided as to whether or not relocation is in their best interest at this time.
However, for George Wilson, a farmer, whose house and crops have been inundated on numerous occasions, he is ready to walk away from his beloved village and try life elsewhere - if proper provisions are not put in place.
"I do not want to stay here until we are washed out again," said Wilson. "The Government needs to follow through on the latest announcement they made two years ago and make proper provision."
Following the September 2010 heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Nicole, which forced the almost 600 residents to evacuate their homes as flood waters took charge, the then Minister of Water, Environment and Housing Dr Horace Chang said the time had come to again look at the whole matter of relocation.
At the time of Chang's announcement, the village was reeling from the loss of millions of dollars worth of crops and livestock as the flood waters climbed to over 50 feet in some areas of the community.
Chang's plan was for the residents to move to state lands in nearby Old Pen and Nyerere Farm, but that did not materialise.
However, unlike Wilson, 76-year-old Huntley Longshaw does not subscribe to the view of leaving his beloved Chigwell and plans to stay there despite its unpredictable history.
"This is home," said Longshaw. "I don't intend to leave, plus nothing that was promised was fulfilled."
Efforts to get an update as to what plans the current Government has in place for Chigwell and the long-standing relocation plans proved futile, as repeated attempts to contact Dr D.K. Duncan, the member of parliament for Eastern Hanover, failed.
However, Desmond Dorman, the parish disaster coordinator for Hanover, thinks getting the residents to leave could prove a difficult prospect, especially against the sentimental attachment to the area.
"They are subsistence farmers with a little plot behind their yard and they are happy with that," said Dorman. "Getting them to pull up and leave could prove a major challenge."
Alexander Mann, the superintendent of roads and works for Hanover, said he is not aware of any plan for Chigwell at the local government level, but agrees with Dorman, that getting residents to leave will not be easy.
"Even if they relocate, they might want to come right back here, and this puts a lot of pressure on the state," said Mann.