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Floods claim three lives

KINGSTON – Three deaths have been blamed on the weekend’s flood rains, which left millions of dollars in damage across the island.

A motorist drives past a collapsed section of Mona Road.

However, the Office of The Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management was up to late yesterday carrying out investigations to determine if all three deaths were caused by the flood rains.

“At this time we can confirm that a 19-year-old female student, Alexia Douglas, died after the car in which she was travelling washed away last (Sunday) evening in Waterloo District, St. Catherine,” Richard Thompson, deputy director general of the ODPEM told the Observer.

Douglas was a passenger in a taxi which was swept away by heavy flood waters Sunday. The driver and other passengers of the ill-fated taxi managed to get out of the vehicle, but Douglas was unable to get out before it was swept away, the police say. Her body was found later.

At the same time, the police, late yesterday, confirmed that the bodies of 57-year-old fisherman Errol Smith, of Old Braeton in Portmore, St. Catherine, was found in Hellshire. Smith had left his home to go fishing. It is suspected that the fisherman got into difficulty as a result of the poor weather condition and drowned.

The police also confirmed that the body of a three-year-old boy was found in McCook’s Pen, St. Catherine. Residents in the area said the body of the child was found in a gully in the area.

“This is something that we will have to investigate. We will be making contact with the other agencies to gather information in these cases,” the ODPEM’s Thompson told the Observer.

Ronald Jackson, the ODPEM’s executive director, said six people, most of them motorists, had to be rescued because of rising flood waters during the course of Sunday night into yesterday morning.

The National Works Agency reported that most blocked roads were cleared yesterday and only about 10 roads were still impassable up to last night.

Stephen Shaw, the NWA’s head of communication, said that these roads were primarily in the parishes of Portland, St. Thomas, St. Andrew, St. Catherine, and St. Ann.

“We have teams that are placed out across the country where we have received reports that roadways are impassable, and we are seeking to clear these area as quickly as possible,” said Shaw.

Shaw, meanwhile, said the NWA was aware of the erosion of the Sandy Gully in Kingston and dismissed claims by a group of residents that nothing was being done about the problem.

Scores of angry residents whose homes are threatened by the continued erosion of the Sandy Gully indicated yesterday that they will stage a protest if the problem is not addressed.

“We are aware of these reports and steps are being taken to address these problems,” Shaw said.

Several of the nation’s roads took a battering from the flood rains; [effecting repairs] should run into millions of dollars. However, it is expected to take some time for a final estimate to be given. (Jamaica Observer)

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