JIS News

Residents from communities in St. Catherine, who had to be evacuated from their homes, during the passage of Tropical Storm Gustav, are commending the efforts and response of the St. Catherine Parish Disaster Committee, to the resulting dislocation.
Mayor of Spanish Town, Dr. Andrew Wheatley, told JIS News, that reports received from personnel on the ground, indicate that the disaster emergency machinery proved effective during the period of dislocation. He said they were able to assist several persons, who were either marooned or flooded out, to relocate to designated shelters.
“We have a number of persons in shelters, especially in the Old Harbour area, where we have around 142 persons housed at the Old Harbour High School, 38 at the Old Harbour Primary School, 15 at the Bog Walk High School, and about eight in Linstead. We have now evacuated a number of persons from the Job Lane/Sunny Side area, and relocated persons from the Thompson Pen/Lauriston area, who were placed at the Jose Marti High School,” he informed.
Dr. Wheatley noted that, as reports of flooding throughout the parish were received, evacuation teams were dispatched to locations, where possible, to assist persons affected. He noted that persons were evacuated from the Nightingale Grove and the Old Harbour Bay areas, two of the areas most susceptible to flooding.
Dr. Wheatley, however, lamented the inability of the parish’s drainage network to handle the large volume of water that was dumped by Tropical Storm Gustav.
“It would appear that the drains are not able to carry the volume of water running through them at the moment,” he told JIS News, pointing out that sections of Walks Road and Angels Phase 1, were flooded as a result of the seeming inability of the drains serving those areas to handle the heavy waters.
The Mayor, however, expressed satisfaction with the high level of compliance by residents in communities, prone to flooding, who voluntarily evacuated those areas before they were inundated. He said JUTC buses were used to evacuate persons from problem areas such as Nightingale Grove. On the matter of security and the provision of adequate food at shelters, Dr. Wheatley advised that this was being addressed and monitored.
The Spanish Town Mayor said that, at the earliest possible time, the Parish Disaster Committee would be assembled to do an assessment of the damage sustained, to determine how best to execute its post disaster strategies.
“We have quite a bit of experience now, in responding to hurricanes and storms. “So, I’m sure this will be a very quick assessment, and we will roll out our different activities; again, you will see a high level of public education right after this event. So, we are, more or less, continuing the whole process of public education, (and) we are working as a team to provide the necessary support to persons living in and around the parish,” he told JIS News.