Trapped - Massive landslide blocks road, damages home

May 18, 2017
Residents look at the massive landslide at Grants Gate in Hope Bay, Portland.


Buff Bay, Portland:

Left with the narrow strip of a road, which is the only alternative route in and out of their community, approximately 700 residents in Portland are worried that continuous rainfall could leave them marooned, should that roadway collapse.

The residents, who are from the community of Grants Gate and other adjoining areas in Hope Bay, Portland, have already been hard hit following a massive landslide that left that main thoroughfare blocked.

"It is going to be many sleepless nights for us all," said Michelle Martin, a resident of Grants Gate.


Alternative route


"The main road leading from Grants Gate to Chatsworth, Duram, Dumphreys, and Coopers Hill is impassable due to a massive landslide. It, therefore, means that no vehicle or pedestrian traffic can enter beyond the bridge at Grants Gate. And, similarly, the likelihood of vehicular traffic accessing the alternative route through Coopers Hill is remote, as that narrow strip of roadway is rapidly breaking away."

The massive landslide, which took place early Tuesday morning, continues to worsen, as ongoing earth movement continues to take place because the soil is saturated.

A house and corner shop are now buried under the rubble, while a farmer, Daniel Brown, lost three cows that were washed away when a nearby river in the community overflowed its banks.

The four occupants of that house, including an eight-year-old girl, who narrowly escaped, are now staying with other family members.

"It will take up until next week or beyond for that roadway to be cleared," said Stephen Williams, councillor for the St Margaret's Bay division.


Impact on farming


"And, in doing so, it will only be cleared to provide single lane access. This is a farming area, and a number of crops, including coffee, banana, plantain, dasheen, along with quick crops, were washed away.

The impact to the farming sector is alarming, and it will take some time, and assistance must be provided to those farmers who have suffered a heavy loss. The rain is continuing, and boulders are tumbling down at regular interval."

While no lives were lost, he said about 20 families are in need of beds, mattresses, food, clothing and other emergency supplies.

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