Jamaica: St. Thomas residents seek shelter from rising waters

KINGSTON (JIS) - Monday, July 11, 2005: Over 400 persons are now staying at shelters in St. Thomas after rising waters from the torrential rains associated with Hurricane Dennis, drove them from their homes.

Omar Afflick, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) Regional Coordinator, told JIS News that hundreds of residents in communities in Seaforth and Yallahs and other sections of the parish had to be evacuated.

"Several evacuation exercises were done last night into early this morning. All were successful in terms of getting persons to safety," he said, noting that the hardest hit areas were Seaforth, Lloyds and Logwood.

Persons are being housed at the Paul Bogle High, Trinityville Primary, Seaforth Primary, Seaforth High, Hillside Primary, Morant Bay Primary, Llandewey Community Centre and Barking Lodge Primary Schools. According to Mr. Afflick, some persons are leaving the shelters for their homes, as the floodwaters have started to recede.

Currently, he said that the road linking Port Morant and Portland via Golden Grove was impassable due to fallen tree. The alternate route is through Market Street.

He also noted that the link between Kingston and St. Thomas has been cut off as the temporary bridge at the Yallahs Fording has been washed away and the alternate route through Easington is blocked by land slippage.

Additionally, Mr. Afflick said, a few blockages still existed in several districts, including Penlyne Castle, Hagley Gap, Trinityville, Mt. Labanus and Danvers Pen.

"So right now there is no contact. The only contact is via telecommunication into the communities of Trinityville, Mt. Lebanus and Danvers Pen," he added.

Meanwhile, he said that members of the St. Thomas Parish Disaster Committee and the National Disaster Committee, was working with the Jamaica Defence Force and the National Works Agency "to establish some more priorities and to take action."

The Regional Coordinator said that residents in the Penlyne Castle and Hagley Gap areas would receive immediate attention.

"They are on our list for reconnaissance flights, to see what is taking place in those communities," he added.