Young Men Save St. Catherine Family from Flood Waters

Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (left), commends resident of Sunnyside, St. Catherine, Jermain Riley for his bravery in rescuing five family members, who were trapped by the recent heavy rains, which pelted the island. Occasion was a tour of the area on Wednesday (May 17).

Story Highlights

  • The act of bravery by Jermain and Jamauno Riley and their friend Ramone Peart, in saving five members of one family during the recent flood rains, is something that will be spoken about by residents of Sunnyside, St. Catherine, for decades to come.
  • Recounting the experience to JIS News, 30-year-old Jermain said his personal safety was the furthest thing from his mind when they decided to brave the flood waters to rescue their neighbours.
  • “Mi haffi save them. Mi cyaan afford fi five people just dead so, and we a go grieve and we a go bawl, so mi seh alright then, (and) mi an mi bredda and one of mi friend dem... just follow the current and swim come down,” he told JIS News.

The act of bravery by Jermain and Jamauno Riley and their friend Ramone Peart, in saving five members of one family during the recent flood rains, is something that will be spoken about by residents of Sunnyside, St. Catherine, for decades to come.

The three young men rescued Nordia Lewin; her young twin sons, Daleik and Daleel Ebanks; their sister and an aunt, who became trapped after they climbed on to a wall to escape rising and gushing waters.

Recounting the experience to JIS News, 30-year-old Jermain said his personal safety was the furthest thing from his mind when they decided to brave the flood waters to rescue their neighbours.

“Mi haffi save them. Mi cyaan afford fi five people just dead so, and we a go grieve and we a go bawl, so mi seh alright then, (and) mi an mi bredda and one of mi friend dem… just follow the current and swim come down,” he told JIS News.

Jermain’s 28-year-old brother, Jamauno, said the cries of the trapped residents, particularly the little boys, gave him the courage to act.

“We just brave up and do wah wi haffi do,” he said, adding that they almost got washed away in the process.

The rains, caused by a trough affecting the Central Caribbean, pounded the country from Monday night (May 15) into Tuesday morning (May 16), resulting in extensive damage to several communities in various parishes.

The parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, St. Elizabeth, St. Mary, Portland, and St. Ann were severely impacted.

Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who toured Sunnyside on Wednesday (May 18), commended the young men for their act of bravery. He said the family members owed their lives to them.

“You did a very good job. Your bravery is acknowledged and we need more Jamaicans like you,” he told Jermain.

During the tour, the Prime Minster got a first-hand look at the damage that occurred when a nearby river overflowed its banks.

Mr. Holness said community members are usually the first responders during disasters, and noted that the training of persons for such eventualities is crucial.

Describing her frightening ordeal, Ms. Lewin said they were trapped on the wall overnight, after they attempted to leave their flooded home.

“The current of the water was so strong… and then there was some electric wire in the water,” she related.

She said several persons attempted to rescue them, but with no success, and thanked the men who eventually saved her life and that of her family members.

In addition to Sunnyside, the Prime Minister also visited Douglas Castle, St. Ann; and Cave Valley, which is located at the border between St. Ann and Clarendon.

The touring party also included Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang; Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson; Director General, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Major Clive Davis; Director of Communication and Customer Service, National Works Agency (NWA), Stephen Shaw, and representatives from the island’s emergency services.

The Prime Minister, who was in the Dominican Republic on an official visit, cut short his trip and returned to the island to tour the affected communities.

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