The parish of St Lucy will be the focus of continuous flood mitigation efforts following the impact of this weekend’s torrential rains on the northern district, promises that parish’s Member of Parliament Peter Phillips, who is also Minister in the Ministry of Transport and Works (MTW).
However, he is adamant Saturday’s flooding could have been “ten times worse” if not for drainage work carried out just over a week ago.
“In the future, obviously we will be doing our checks, we will be putting a full programme in place that there will be cleaning throughout the year and not in any particular season. This [weekend’s] situation would have been caused by the excessive amount of rain rather than because of a drainage issue. In a place like Pie Corner where the bridge was overflown, that watercourse was cleared. Had the drains not been cleared, the situation would have been far worse,” said the MP.
He added: “The rainfall in St Lucy started very early in the morning, falling hard and steadily without easing up for over three hours. In addition, there was rain before Saturday leaving the earth saturated to a point where the earth could not take in anymore and it just did what nature does.”
As life returned to normal following the heavy showers, Phillips promised that MTW officials would be teaming up with their counterparts in the Ministry of Home Affairs throughout the week to continue clearing roads and pumping water.
“Teams from MTW will be moving around from the Chance Hall depot and other depots depending on the amount of work that needs to be done. Certainly, we will be going to clear roadways and make sure the roads are safe again,” said Phillips.
“We will continue the work in relation to clearing of waterways, watercourses, and culverts. Of course, some clean-up work needs to be done in places like Oxford where I visited today and where the road is covered with dirt from the plantations.”
A team of Government ministers and emergency personnel led by Prime Minister Mia Mottley assessed the damage caused by Saturday’s downpours. While no loss of life or major injuries were reported, Phillips called on the numerous plantation owners in the north to take their own steps to reduce flood risks.
“I want to encourage plantation owners as they would have done in times past, to plant some khuskhus grass to stop the erosion of soil when we have heavy rainfall causing road blockages and accidents, thus endangering lives,” urged Phillips.
He said this week some of his time would be dedicated to engaging the Welfare Department and some other government agencies to seek assistance for those who lost household possessions and other items as a result of the rains.
“Persons had water leaking into their homes and I got reports of beds and other furniture being damaged by the rain. Those reports came in but I have to go and see for myself and assess the impact in those areas where families called me directly to relay the issues they experienced. I cannot put a dollar value on it but suffice it to say that those areas identified, our teams from the MTW will be out there to clear the roads and get them back into a more useable state,” he said.