MOMTEGO BAY, Jamaica – For the second time in three months, sections of Jamaica’s Montego Bay including the usually busy downtown commercial district, were flooded Tuesday afternoon, resulting in major dislocation for motorists and pedestrians.
William Street, the lower section of Union Street and the rear of the Montego Bay Resident Magistrate’s Court, all downtown, experienced the worst of the flooding as the North Gully – the city’s premier drain – overflowed its banks, leaving buildings and vehicles partially submerged, reports the Jamaica Gleaner.
At the Montego Bay RM Court, which was in session when the rain started shortly after 1:00 p.m., attorneys had to quickly vacate the building to secure their vehicles, as thousands of gallons of flood waters overflowed the North Gully.
“I had to use my car keys to roll down my window and then dive through it to secure my vehicle,” said attorney-at-law, Charles Sinclair, whose BMW motor car was parked in front of the courthouse. “Some other people were not so lucky as their vehicles got swallowed up in the water.”
In commenting on the frequency of flooding in Montego Bay, Mr. Sinclair, who is also the councillor for the Flankers division, said the drains in and around the city had become inadequate as a result of the planned and unplanned developments taking place in the outskirts of Montego Bay.
“We now have the Cornwall Courts housing scheme and the other areas where lands have been cleared for construction, bringing in additional water on the city,” said Councillor Sinclair. “Although it is going to cost a lot of money, we have to start looking at constructing bigger drains.”
However, some of the affected business owners and pedestrians adamantly claimed the flooding was caused by improper drain maintenance, especially of the North Gully.
“The North Gully is not being cleaned because neither the St. James Parish Council nor the National Works Agency is willing to clean it,” said businesswoman Barbara Smith. “Personally, I believe all the businesses that have been affected should come together and sue the authorities for the damage they have suffered.”
In November last year, members of the Montego Bay Fire Department and the police had to be called in to rescue persons trapped in several buildings following flooding in the downtown area.