Hurricane season no worry to some Gordon Town residents

Some residents in Gordon Town, St Andrew, say they are not worried about possible damage to infrastructure during the hurricane season, arguing that preparation is key to surviving any such eventuality.

The residents shared their views with the Jamaica Observer against the backdrop of landslides that damaged Gordon Town Road during heavy rains last November associated with Tropical Storm Eta, resulting in the Government allotting $187 million to repair the road. That work is still under way.

Responding to the Observer‘s query about possible damage from hurricanes, one resident, Winston Jackson, said he is not worried.

“We will have that because of how people have utilised the hillside, especially where they have made new houses. They have not made barriers to keep the earth from moving from the hillside,” he argued.

Jackson, who said he has been living in Gordon Town for 46 years, argued that while there will always be destruction from natural disasters, the people just have to be prepared as much as possible.

“We can do so much and no more, so the only thing I feel like we need to do is the preparatory work in cleaning the drains, cutting away trees that are near to the light post that would cause destruction. People would also need to secure their houses, and just start storing food items and water in good containers,” he stated, as he said.

Another resident, who wished only to be identified as F Johnson, said he, too, is not worried.

“Hurricane season come every year and we have to be prepared to survive in whatever crisis. If death or landslide happen we just haffi get over it, because everything is a possibility right now. People dead everyday. No house never slide weh really regularly up here; people get little flooding and thing sometimes and we survive,” the 59-year-old man said.

Adding that he has lived in Gordon Town all his life and this is another reason he is not worried about the hurricane season, Johnson said he was not nervous about travelling on the section of Gordon Road that collapsed last November.

“We accustomed to hills and valleys and tracks and everything from we are growing, so dem thing deh a simple thing, me nuh have nuh nerves fi dat,” said Johnson.

A similar view was expressed by a woman who gave her name only as Angella.

“We used to it. Look from when the road bruk weh, it nuh shoulda done fix long time; so we nuh have nuh head way out, more than we just do weh we haffi do,” said the 50-year-old woman.

“(Landslides) a nothing strange or new to me. When hurricane come, the whole a dis place a flood out, so me used to it,” she told the Observer.

Noting that the landslide that destroyed the road is the largest she has seen, Angella said, “Mi just a trust and believe inna God ennuh. Mi cyaan tell you seh mi a go plan this an’ plan that ’cause mi gooda plan an’ God a wipe. Mi just haffi pray.”

Another resident, a 26-year-old who gave his name only as Clunis, said he has been living in the area for more than 10 years and he, too, is not worried about the hurricane season.

“There is always going to be some level of concern regarding landslides and how that will affect access to the area and that’s out of my control, so I don’t worry too much about it. I’m basically of the thought that when I reach that bridge I will cross it,” he told the Observer.

Meanwhile, 40-year-old Joel Powell said despite the fact that he lives on one of the hills, he is not troubled by hurricanes.

“Mi good, because mi live up on the mountain part and mi nah get nuh whole heap a disturbance. Which part we live the landslide no really worry we… A just the people who them an’ the hurricane nuh really too agree, ’cause you know a nuh everybody have a stronger mind, so a just them people deh you haffi really consider ’bout,” Powell stated.

In February, Juliet Holness, in whose St Andrew East Rural constituency Gordon Town sits, said she did not foresee any major delays in the six-month timeline for the repair of the road, which includes construction of a retaining wall.

“One of the things that really determines how long the wall takes is whether you go with packed stones or reinforced concrete… The packed stones cost less, and it gives you more in terms of employment, so the constituents can be more involved in the process, but pouring concrete moves faster. Most of the design for the project is reinforced concrete,” the MP had explained during a tour of the damaged road.

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