Fri | May 25, 2018

Crops replace flood waters in Swamp, Moneague

Published:Friday | July 12, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Residents travel by boats in Swamp, Moneague, St Ann to get to their communities in the parish on December 29, 2005 as rising waters cover the roadway and several homes. - FILE
Albert Saunders sows corn with two workers in the background. - PHOTOS BY CARL GILCHRIST

Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer


THE WATERS have withdrawn and crops are being planted as life has returned to normal in the once-flooded community of Swamp in Moneague, St Ann.

Sections of the meadow that were flooded are virtually parched as the grass is turning brown. A few chains up the road, a farmer at Silver Lake Farm on the other side of the road, was planting corns and pumpkin seeds.

Beyond the farm, two ponds that are a permanent part of the landscape, formed a serene backdrop.

Fears have virtually disappeared of a recurrence of the flooding of October 2005. At the back of the minds of some residents, though, pictures of the vast acreage of water-covered land, caused by a spring that has since dried up, residents say, remain.

The flood caused severe dislocation and even now there are abandoned buildings that, during the flood, were totally submerged. Lives were lost, too.

But now, crops are growing in the community once more.

For Albert Saunders, a farmer at Silver Lake Farm, it was good to be able to plant crops again after having to wait for years for the water to recede.

The Gleaner caught up with him last week as he and two workers planted corn. Saunders has been farming for more than nine years on that piece of land. When the flood waters came in 2005, he lost all his crops - pumpkins, corn, sweet potato, peas, peanuts.

"It tek we two years before we coulda come back (here)," Saunders recalled.

Having suffered directly by the flooding, he was one of few persons who actually expressed concerns about the hurricane season and the possibility of another flood.

"Like how the hurricane a come, we a fret again because we a look fi anything happen again." But the farming continues nevertheless, he said.

"We still a plant. Wi a plant corn and pumpkin today. An' wi a raise some hogs, too."

Saunders said he did not get any form of compensation for the loss of crops for the time he was unable to farm.

Government Aid

Councillor for the Moneague division, Lloyd Garrick, said, however, that much was done to help persons affected by the flood and suggested that there was hardly any affected persons who did not get some form of assistance.

"We helped people. We helped them with relocation, with food and other stuff. For six months, we found the rental to pay for persons who were dislocated. I don't think we could have done anymore," Garrick said.

About the current state of affairs, Garrick said things are back to normal.

"Things are back to normal, over two years now. The water has subsided, the cemetery has reopened. We have had rains, but no signs of flooding. We are monitoring it, especially now during the hurricane season. We have markers so when rain falls, we check to see the water levels of the ponds."

Further up the road, The Gleaner was just in time to catch John Williams as he walked by two buildings which had remained inundated for years after the flood. They remain abandoned.

"This was a shop and a bar," he explained, pointing to the closer of the two buildings. The other, he said, was unfinished at the time of the flood, but was occupied, however.

"No more wata naw come. Wi nuh haffi worry, the spring dry up," Williams said.

Another resident, who did not identify himself, expressed the same view that there is nothing to fear because the spring is not going to get active again anytime soon.

But it was the rainfall that triggered the spring in 2005 that led to the massive flooding, suggesting that there is always a possibility of a recurrence.

In February 2006, four months after the flooding started, managing director of the Water Resources Authority Basil Fernandez, at a town meeting in Moneague, suggested that, in the absence of more rain, the flood waters would continue to rise before it would peak and start to decline. More rains, however, would have meant that the situation would have been compounded and would have got much worse. Luckily, the rains stayed away.