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A number of key government agencies are currently working together to devise a plan to assist the residents of Harmons, Manchester for whom the presence of rising waters in and around their community has become a fact of life since mid-2005.
Currently, the South Manchester community is divided into three sections as a result of several huge bodies of water that have engulfed the area.
Yesterday afternoon a special agency team led by personnel from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and the Manchester Parish Council met with residents of the community.
Speaking at the event, ODPEM Regional Disaster Coordinator, Camille Delgado outlined some of the initiatives being formulated by the task force team.
“We are aware of the fact that in some sections such as John Robinson that there is actually no electricity because of the fact that much of the power lines are underwater so in the short term what we will be doing is distributing a number of lanterns to the residents until JPS (Jamaica Public Service) can get their system up and running, we are also looking at getting potable water into the Green Pond area where there is no road access,” she said.
Ms. Delgado noted that the road ahead was one that called for a certain amount of patience to be exercised by the affected residents.
“Of course there are certain other issues such as that related to the need for a temporary road for continued access both inside and outside the community, this issue is being handled by the Manchester Parish Council and JAMALCo.we intend to continue with both our mosquito control programme as well as food distribution to those in need,” she said.
Member of Parliament for South Manchester, Michael Peart in his remarks stated that some of the residents needed to come to a decision.
“Please remember that the Water Resources Authority has indicated that it will take sometime for the water to recede and dry up, for now it still is rising and if you know that you are not able to manage because of age or bad health then you should be prepared to relocate,” he said.
Mr. Peart stated that there would be an ever present danger if the water did not recede before the 2006 rainy season began.
“For now we have four black tanks in Mandeville which we will be setting up in this area, our intention is to run some pipes from these tanks into Green Pond so that residents can have drinking water, for the people in John Robinson, we have to first get the new road done after which JPS can put in some lines,” he said.
Some of the agencies/ministries present at the meeting included; the Water Resources Authority, JAMALCO, the Manchester Health Department and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
A second meeting is to be held today at the Harmons All Age School in the vicinity of the John Robinson district. The spectre of rising flood waters has been haunting the community of Harmons since the flood rains of 2002.