Flood nightmare - Thousands caught in city lockdown following heavy rains
Frustration, flooded roads and buildings, city-wide gridlock, hours in stand-still traffic, and stranded at bus stops were some of the horror many persons experienced in the Corporate Area yesterday, as they attempted to get home following heavy rains which started at approximately 4 p.m.
"It was a nightmare. I've never seen anything like this. The entire city seems to be practically locked down," one woman in downtown Kingston declared, who had been stuck in traffic for more than three hours trying to get home.
One gentleman who spoke with our news team noted, "I came all the way from Linstead so I experienced everything. When we got to Cross Roads it was one chaos. Di whole a Island Grill flood out. We couldn't move."
Another woman shared, "Mi just turn back and go back to the office. Mi lef work from five o'clock and after two hours I was still stuck at Moby Dick (downtown Kingston), and I work downtown."
It was similar sentiments from most persons who spoke to The Gleaner when we took to the streets yesterday afternoon to assess the results of the major flooding that had most of the Corporate Area in a gridlock.
Molynes Road, Marcus Garvey Drive, Hagley Park Road, Waltham Park Road, downtown Kingston, and New Kingston were some of the many areas that were severely impacted by the heavy rainfall.
Local government minister, Desmond McKenzie, speaking on RJR's Beyond The Headlines yesterday, said the situation was compounded by the numerous road works taking place in sections of the Corporate Area. He added, however, that he believed a big part of the issue was the lack of patience by motorists. He also raised concerns about the traffic control system.
"I don't know if we can attribute it to any one situation. I think it's a combination of a number of factors. The fact is that the infrastructure of the city is badly in need of upgrading, and a lot of that is presently taking place. There is no excuse for the gridlock, though," he said.
"What it is now, is a question of the kind of traffic control that is required and the fact that some of our motorists don't have the sort of patience. It was something that was totally unexpected in terms of the amount of rain that fell in a short period of time."
McKenzie said a team was deployed to assess the damage that resulted from the heavy rains.
Stephen Shaw, communications manager at the National Works Agency, said he was unable to give a direct reason as to the cause of the major flooding event that locked down the city, but noted that detailed assessments will be done today.
He also said that Marcus Garvey Drive, Hagley Park Road and Oakland Road are the areas that are cause for concern for the agency.
"It will be tomorrow (today) before we do any such assessment. What we know is that the area was flooded, but as to what would have contributed to that level of flooding we can't say for sure at this point," he said.