Columns

Waters from the hills...

Barbara
Gloudon

Friday, January 12, 2018

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How are the people of Portland coping with the flooding which has come unexpectedly? Most times when the subject of water comes into community conversation it makes a spirited discussion about shortage of the precious fluid. We quarrel no end about “weh di water deh?” And, of course, it is an occasion to blame the politicians for not doing their work. After comes the serious criticism of the managers of public water supplies who have to face the questions about drought.

It is hard to convince us that we can't always get water whenever we want it. Well, this time, early in the year, we have a problem; not of too little, but too much water. A few weeks ago it was Trelawny, and lately it has been the parish of Portland.

A long-established native of “Portie”, who lives outside the area but whose family members are there to supply the information on discomfort, notes the difficulty as they struggle with flood waters and landslides. “The water just spring up so. And, mek me tell you, it is a serious situation,” another Portlander advised me. “Everywhere you turn, the water is pouring from the hillsides. And, before you know it, things begin to wash weh!” Hillside lands and the roads — many of which needed care from the start — now face more damage and need for repairs quicker than you imagine.

How are schools managing? A very gracious member of the Titchfield High School responded to my request for updating on the situation. Attendance at classes is very low and, in some instances, devoid of students who have challenges getting to school. The school term has barely started, but nature has caused delays.

Staffers of this paper, who have been visiting the water-soaked areas of Portland, have covered some really challenging terrain. It is to be hoped that things will be returned to normalcy as soon as possible. There's much to be done. To see the pictures of the fragile hillsides ripped to pieces, and the hardship being endured by residents of the areas, tells us that these are serious times.

One particular area ended up with “sheer fright”, as the headline capping the story of how some citizens in the Moore Town area (ground of Maroon history, barely escaped an encounter with a landslide which almost crushed a taxi and its passengers. Luckily, all escaped.

Nature is doing some disturbing things, not only among us here, but elsewhere in the world. Earlier this week I was studying the irony of how we were not the only people who were battling with nature. Over in the western area of the US in the state of California, after deadly wildfires had died down, they now face landslides and flooding.

There were difficulties on premises of landowners, among them the noted television icon Oprah Winfrey, whose land surrounding her house was inundated with water and mud which soon caught TV attention. Imagine the rich and famous affected like regular folk. Be it in America or Jamaica, matters affecting the survival of people on Earth will always level the playing field.

We will have to recognise that responsibility for the protection of the Earth is ours. Whoever we are, wherever our heritage comes from, it cannot be ignored. The water which trickles down the Port Antonio hillsides and destroys small houses is of no less value than the belongings of an individual in another part of the world. Be it Oprah, yours or mine. It concerns all of us. And let us also be thankful that the tsunami alert a few days ago was only that.

Thank you, Shaggy

“Nuff respeck” to you and others who cared and shared. A little more is now needed. Shaggy brought it off again, raising funds and drawing attention to what can be done to attract more interest by the world crowd who can continue to give to the development of the Bustamante Hospital for Children.

Let's put on the pressure to get the Jamaica Defence Force to respond to the call to share some of the land at Up Park Camp to facilitate much-needed expansion for the hospital and to help even more needy children and parents. Meanwhile, let's talk soon with you, Brother Shaggy. Let's make it better for parents who know how challenging it can be getting to the hospital. Not for luxury, but the necessity, our sick children, from infant on, still need help. One love!

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@yahoo.com.

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