Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Heavy rains cause massive dislocation across Jamaica

HEAVY rains from a low-pressure system which has been affecting the island of Jamaica since last week caused further dislocation yesterday, leaving at least 14 roads, including the treacherous Bog Walk Gorge in St Catherine, impassable and impacting heavily on the movement of traffic in several parishes, including the capital, Kingston.

"One hundred and forty-seven roads across the island have been affected since the heavy rainfall started, but we have managed to clear several, while restoring 44 of them to single lane traffic," said Havanol Douglas, communications officer at the National Works Agency (NWA). "We are advising motorists to exercise caution on the roads," Douglas said last night.

Water from the Rio Cobre rose approximately nine feet in the gorge Monday night, while the White Ford and the Yallahs rivers in St Thomas overflowed their banks yesterday, leaving the White Ford to Hagley Gap and Mahogany Vale roads impassable.

Ronald Jackson, director general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), told the Observer early yesterday that there were also reports of flooding in sections of Old Harbour, St Catherine and Toll Gate, Clarendon where a freak storm resulted in two housing losing their roofs.

Later, the ODPEM, in a release said flooding was reported in several communities in Clarendon, including Osbourne Store, Milk River, Four Paths, and Swansea in Osbourne where two houses were damaged.

In St Catherine, the Adair Gully overflowed, affecting residents of Adair and Goodwood drives, while sections of Chigwell in Hanover and Sherwood Content in Trelawny also reported flooding.

According to the ODPEM, a retaining wall collapsed along the north coast highway, in the vicinity of Norwood Gardens, and in Duckheld, Richmond, a section of a road collapsed on a house. The extent of the damage, however, was not clear.

Meanwhile, the National Water Commission reported that 80 of its 460 water supply systems were significantly impacted by flood waters, primarily by very high turbidity or muddy inflows, which blocked intakes and dislocated pipelines. A disruption in the public electricity system also caused disruptions in water supply.

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