Wed | Sep 23, 2020

Douglas Castle residents relieved, hope flooding is of the past

Published:Tuesday | June 9, 2020 | 12:23 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
Sections of the culvert at Douglas Castle.
Sections of the culvert at Douglas Castle.

Residents of Douglas Castle in southeast St Ann, near the border with Clarendon, are breathing easier as the 2020 hurricane season gets going after work was done to alleviate a flooding problem that devastated the community in 2017.

Millions of dollars in livestock, crops, and household items were lost due to extensive flooding.

In 2018, the Government said it would allocate approximately $35 million to undertake significant road-improvement work in the community, which included raising a section of the road by around 15 metres and construction of several box culverts.

Local Government and Community Development Minister Desmond McKenzie noted at the time that there were 25 to 30 sinkholes in the community that made flooding easy.

With the work now completed, residents are hoping that it is sufficient to prevent flooding in the future.

SYSTEM NEEDS TESTING

Stephen Porter, a farmer who lost several crops during the 2017 flood, is grateful for the work done but pointed out that since its completion last year, the area has not experienced any significant rainfall to test the new system.

He explained that he was reflecting the views of community members when expressing some reservations.

“Yes, I’m glad that something has been done concerning the road, but we nuh have no heavy rains since then. That kind of rain would have to fall again,” Porter said.

But Paul McFarlane, St Ann Municipal Corporation councillor for the Calderwood division, which encompasses Douglas Castle, believes that while the real test is yet to come, the work done will be effective to mitigate the flood.

“Some extensive work was done there. They did a major drain to mitigate against the flooding of the sink hole,” McFarlane pointed out.

“I am hopeful, but when it comes to mitigation against flooding, it is when it occurs, then you can assess what happens in comparison to what was there before.

“The truth is, based on what had happened there before, I personally think that the work that was done will mitigate the flooding substantially,” McFarlane said.

Meanwhile, even with the prediction of a more active hurricane season this year, farmers in the community are experiencing a prolonged dry spell, coupled with a disease that is wiping out their lettuce crop, Porter said.

And despite the effects of the 2017 flooding on the community, the residents are bent on remaining there, Porter made it known.

McFarlane backed his stance. “Nobody has left there because of the flooding. You see, it’s a farming community, and the residents are committed to their farming.”

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