Sat | Dec 2, 2023

Rain batters Portland

Land slippages, eroded structures, blocked roads put eastern parish on edge

Published:Tuesday | September 26, 2023 | 12:09 AMGareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer
A section of a house in Dolphin’s Bay, Portland, is damaged due to land slippage caused by torrential rains in the parish.
A section of a house in Dolphin’s Bay, Portland, is damaged due to land slippage caused by torrential rains in the parish.


THREE DAYS of torrential rainfall has resulted in damage to the basic infrastructure in Portland, triggering in the suspension of classes at some schools.

The downpour, which started on Saturday, got more intense lasting into Sunday night and Monday morning, causing land slippages along several roadways. The conditions rendered some roads impassable to vehicular traffic and pedestrians stranded for more than six hours on Monday.

During a series of landslides, Brian Rose, better know as ‘Bahjoe’, had to make a hasty exit from his house at Bryan’s Bay, shortly after 7 a.m. on Monday, after a section of his dwelling caved in with water and mud flooding inside.

“Mi just tek weh miself and rush outside, ‘cause life more important,” Rose said.

“Mi run lef money, clothes, food, and cigarette. All mi hear is a likkle sound on the outside. Mi did a sleep and a it wake mi up. Mi nuh know weh mi a go sleep, ‘cause di mud and water just a pour in so. But mi glad say mi still alive,” Rose said.

Rose told The Gleaner that he would be reporting the matter at the Portland Municipal Corporation (PMC)even as he hoped that the rains would ease soon so he can assess the full extent of the damage.

“Mi definitely a go need some help fi fix back mi house. Right now mi nuh live no weh,” he added.

Less than three miles away, another house suffered a similar fate at Dolphin Bay, where a section of the building came crashing down as a result of a landslide. Rubble from the landslide blocked the main road for some time before a section was cleared to accommodate single-lane traffic.

Disaster coordinator for Portland, Denise Lewis, said that although several roadways across the parish were impacted by landslides, fallen trees and rising water, remedial work was done by the Portland Division of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, a team from the Roads and Works Department at the PMC, and the National Works Agency to clear most of the roadways and establish at least single-lane passage.

“Sections of the Buff Bay valley were also impacted, including Section, Mahoe and Banga Ridge due to fallen trees, scouring and land slippages,” she said.

A scour occurs when water erodes the sediments that surround the base or support structures for bridges, roads, and other man-made buildings.

“Our emergency teams continue to monitor the situation and they are on standby to deal with any eventuality. Additionally, a section of the Black Hill main road, which was blocked by downed trees, was cleared by the fire team,” Lewis added.

At least four schools had to keep their doors shut on Monday due to the weather conditions. The affected schools were Norwich Primary, Titchfield High, Port Antonio Primary and Portland High.

Port Antonio Primary’s vice principal, Sonia Matthews, said that the decision was made after a discussion with the board chairman.

“It was the best decision and it was done in the interest of students. Many found it difficult to travel during the downpour and the schoolyard was flooded. In the event that the weather improves, classes will resume on Tuesday,” she said.