Floodwaters rise a month after rains

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday October 29, 2010 – It has been more than a month since heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Nicole caused major damage in Jamaica, but disaster preparedness officials say floodwaters are still rising in three communities at a rate of six inches per day.

Residents trying to leave Chigwell, Pearces Village and Forrest in eastern Hanover – located on the northwestern tip of the island – have to do so using bamboo rafts built by neigbours or boats provided by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), according to Hanover Parish Disaster Preparedness Coordinator, Olga Fae Headley.

Farmers in all three districts have also recorded heavy crop, poultry and cattle losses.

Headley says residents are helping each other out, minimizing the need for emergency shelters to be opened.

But she acknowledged that even the one shelter opened in Chigwell, which is housing four people, is in danger because of its proximity to the rising waters.

“There is water over there in the yard, so right now we are fearful for that,” Headley said, adding that if the flood waters continue to rise, occupants of the shelter would have to be relocated.

Meantime, ODPEM in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has provided some fish fingerlings, as a means of vector control, and the Ministry of Health is also working assiduously in the area implementing mosquito control and other health projects.

Headley has also issued a warning to residents of the area to refrain from swimming in the floodwater. She said there was a strong possibility that it is contaminated with bacteria since several toilets in the area have been flooded out.

Flooding from Tropical Storm Nicole at the end of last month claimed 13 lives and caused J$16.9 billion (almost US$200 million) in damage.

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