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St Mary informal settlers at risk – Creary

Published:Tuesday | July 23, 2019 | 12:24 AMGareth Davis/Gleaner Writer

Informal settlers occupying lands along river banks in St Mary are at risk of suffering great loss to life and property in the event that a hurricane hits Jamaica.

Residents in several squatter settlements, which appear to have grown overnight, continue to ignore appeals from the St Mary Municipal Corporation to relocate to safer areas despite them experiencing scary moments caused by the ravages of torrential rainfall, which causes flooding in the area.

“It is a worrying sign as women, children, and the elderly are exposed to serious danger in the event of a hurricane,” said Richard Creary, mayor of Port Maria.

He continued: ‘’It is rather hard to understand the reasons as to why persons continue to occupy space along river banks, knowing that their lives are at risk. Our appeal appears to have fallen on deaf ears, but we can only hope and pray that we will be spared the wrath of a storm. No life is worth losing even if one thinks that their investment and time is too much to give up.’’

According to Creary, though squatter settlements have received a heavy battering from torrential rainfall when water levels rise ­dangerously high and river banks overflow, informal settlers (squatters) are building more houses.

And with the Atlantic Hurricane Season nearing its peak, bearing in mind that the months of August and September are considered the ones that produce a range of storms, Creary said that he is hoping that good sense will prevail among the squatters so that they will consider relocating to areas where suitable lands have been identified.

Creary noted that the ­resistance being shown by squatters is ­considered selfish as not only are they refusing to budge, but they are the ones who, in the event that they are affected by flooding or any act of God, will be demanding immediate help and assistance.

‘’Every resident is entitled to any form of assistance from ­Government, but one must ­seriously consider their own safety and also the well-being of others, including children and the elderly. It cannot be that they are willing to risk their own lives and the lives of others, knowing very well that there is an ­impending disaster. One’s life is much more important than to take such risk,” Creary added.