KINGSTON, Jamaica – It was their 27th-wedding anniversary and Louise and Milton Chance decided to celebrate it in style at the Milk River Hotel and Spa, located in the foothills of the rustic south coast village in Clarendon.
But heavy rains Sunday night interrupted the celebration as the Milk River overflowed its banks and left the couple, 11 other guests and two staff members marooned at the remote tourist attraction.
When a Gleaner news team got to a section of the roadway leading to the spa Monday, it was flooded. Fishermen had to travel by two boats, along the Milk River to the hotel, to assist the guests.
“We got up about 5:15 a.m. and realised that the water was rising,” Mrs Chance told The Gleaner.
“I am afraid of water and I am from Manchester where we don’t even have rivers.”
She had checked into the hotel on Saturday and was expecting to leave by midday yesterday.
Jacqueline Lawrence and her husband, Lloyd, checked into the hotel yesterday and were looking forward to a wonderful Labour Day weekend.
Mrs Lawrence said when she saw that the water was rising early yesterday morning, they began to execute an exit strategy.
“This is more than an experi-ence. This is something that I will have to tell my grandchildren,” Mrs Lawrence said.
There is a sign just outside the facility, warning guests about crocodiles in the area.
“I wasn’t afraid of the water but more so of the crocodiles. Gladly we did not see any,” Mrs Lawrence said.
Seven cars belonging to the guests were also inundated to their windows.
Millicent McLean of Hellshire, St Catherine, who was also at the facility with her husband, said the experience of the rain beating down on the zinc Sunday night was “great”.
“But I did not expect this to happen. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this,” she told The Gleaner.
“This morning, I heard a little sound and opened the window and I had to close it back quickly,” McLean said with a chuckle, adding that she was shocked to see that the cars were covered with water.
“As the water rose, you could smell gas in the entire place, so we were afraid that some explosion would have occurred.”
She added: “This is the worst experience. I never thought that things could be like this.”
Four guests, including the Lawrences, were transported by the boat on which The Gleaner’s news team returned to the dry area of the roadway.
Mrs Lawrence became nervous because she was not aware that the fishermen would have rowed the boat on the Milk River. She thought they would have used the flooded road.
An elderly woman who was also on the boat said she was too distressed to speak.
The Gleaner was also told that two visitors from the United States were at the hotel. They were transported out earlier in the day.
Member of Parliament for South West Clarendon, Noel Arscott, who also journeyed to the hotel, told The Gleaner that once there is heavy rain, the water from Porus and other areas empty into the Milk River. He noted that flooding at Milk River was not strange.
“The water level is very low today. It has been much higher than this,” said Arscott.
Mayor of May Pen Milton Brown, who was also at the facility, told The Gleaner that there were plans to develop the Milk River Hotel and Spa.
“In this plan, we will have to have an emergency evacuation and part of the feature has to include a helicopter pad, so we can move people out,” he said.