Harbour Drive residents fear Tropical Storm Gonzalo

July 23, 2020
The back of Sharee Newman’s home on Harbour Drive in Harbour View.
The back of Sharee Newman’s home on Harbour Drive in Harbour View.
The gully that runs behind some of the homes.
The gully that runs behind some of the homes.
 Sharee Newman
Sharee Newman

As Tropical Storm Gonzalo strengthens in the Atlantic and is expected to dump showers on the island by early next week, the residents of Harbour Drive in Harbour View, St Andrew, are fearful.

They said they are urging the authorities to fix the threat that they now face. Sharee Newman, whose house is at the entrance of the avenue, said she is 'scared' of the home she shares with her family.

"My house is eating away. I am afraid of living in my own home. There are days when I will be praying for rain because the time is so hot, and then reality kicks in and I know I really can't deal with the rain because the impact is not going to be good. The earth isn't solid and the back of my yard continues to be undermined. I really don't know how far it (the erosion) really is under my house. No one should be living like this, we pay our taxes," she said.

Newman said there is also a potential risk from a JPS pole that was partially unearthed by the water, and supported by what's left of her wall. In 2015, floodwater destroyed the perimeter walls at the back of her property, and that of her neighbour.

The channelling of water through a gully at the back of their homes has caused the earth to cave in, making a portion of the foundation of Newman's home visible.


"We are affected in more ways than one. These mosquitoes love us over here bad. They take us for target practice. Health-wise, we have to be worried about COVID, dengue and other illnesses because of this gully. This gully needs to be treated. The water is just stagnant," she said.

Sonia Taylor has replaced her perimeter wall with a zinc fence, but says that she knows it will do very little should Tropical Storm Gonzalo develop into a hurricane and hit the island.

"Just hearing the water rushing behind the house is a scary feeling. Whenever I am praying I just ask God for enough rain to wet the earth. Every time we hear about a hurricane or even rain, we fret, because we just cannot prepare for it like others because no matter what we build, the gully take it way. We just can't deal with rain much less a storm now, so I am praying it just weakens or we are going to feel it," Taylor said.

Ethel Pete-Smith said she is praying continuously against Gonzalo.

"We can't deal with a hurricane as we are yet to recover from rainfall. Something needs to be done for the safety of the residents living here. We are law-abiding citizens paying our taxes and the gully wasn't built properly in the first place. All of what has been happening is man-made," she said.

Director of the National Meteorological Service, Evan Thompson, said with Gonzalo still outside the projection period they are uncertain about the amount of rainfall it may or may not produce.

"We can't tell if it will increase or decrease in intensity. All of that is up in the air so we not too sure yet what will happen outside of the first two days. Whether it turns or heads straight towards us, and in what state, is what will really determine the amount of rainfall that we get or may not get. We are hoping that it will produce significant rainfall and it quite likely will, because if it is downgraded and continues to head in this direction, we should get some rain even if we are on the fringes of it," he said.

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