JIS News

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and the St. Catherine Parish Council are looking into the installation of flood gates at the north and south access points of the Bog Walk Gorge, which would prevent motorists from approaching the Gorge when it is flooded.
This was announced during a special meeting held yesterday (June 17) at the offices of the St. Catherine Parish Council, which was co-chaired by Director General of ODPEM, Ronald Jackson, and Mayor of Spanish Town, Dr. Andrew Wheatley.
This initiative will also include erecting warning signs at different locations on the approach to the Gorge. After heavy rainfall, especially during the hurricane season, there is often traffic congestion and persons are sometimes trapped by the flooding of the Gorge.
Addressing representatives of various private and government agencies, who attended the meeting, Mr. Jackson said that he was encouraged by the initiative shown by the Parish Council and other stakeholders in trying to find a solution to the problem.
“We all need to find a way to get involved in the process of reducing the risks posed by these natural hazards because in the long run, it ultimately affects us as citizens and as private sector entities trying to produce in whatever community we are located,” he pointed out.
Mr. Jackson said that he would be seeking funds to construct the gates. “I will look into my own system to see how we can get support for putting that up and of course, we will welcome partnerships with anyone who wants to join to do that,” stating that the National Works Agency would be asked to provide the costing and design for the gates.
With regards to the installation and construction of the signs, Mr. Jackson said he would be writing to private sector groups for assistance with this project. Arrangements for the closure of the gates would be formalized with the Water Resources Authority (WRA), Mr. Jackson said.
The Director General said ODPEM has been faced with many challenges in dealing with the flooding of the Gorge during heavy rains, and even though the WRA has provided the agency with early warning information as to the status of the Rio Cobre river, by the time this was communicated through the media houses, a number of persons would have reached the Gorge.
Additionally, he noted that the ODPEM and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) had held several discussions in finding “low cost solutions” in dealing with the problem and noted that these meetings had focused on the closure of the Gorge during flood rains and the evacuation of persons trapped in the area.
The meeting, which was held to implement risk reduction measures for critical areas in St. Catherine and to garner financial support from corporate entities in the parish, also examined other critical issues such as the provision of a stipend for volunteer divers along the Flat Bridge and the mitigation works to be carried out along Coleburn’s Gully and Nightingale Grove.
Attending the meeting were representatives from the NWA, WRA, WINDALCO, JCF, Jamaica Broilers Group, and Serenity Park.

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