Howard Stubbs operates what some people may consider to be a ‘dry weather’ beauty salon, but he is not the one at fault.
The water that sometimes floods his business – Jamie’s Beauty Salon – and three other buildings on the same property comes from the public road.
The flood victims are located at Bronx Street, commonly called Puss Gully, which is located in the vicinity of the bottom Dixon’s Drug Store at 74 King Street in Linstead, St. Catherine.
Stubbs said the situation deteriorated in recent times since Government made changes to the drainage system, resulting in more water from the main road being dumped onto Bronx Street.
There is a major drainage system on Bronx Street, but it has not been cleaned for years. It is now clogged, and is resulting in the intense flooding.
The challenge has resulted in Stubbs’ grandparents being relocated from their two-storey house a few years ago. Members of the family still occupy the building, but the one person who lives on the ground floor has to flee whenever the flood waters emerge.
“It is frustrating,” Stubbs told The Beacon, adding that his relatives who live in the aforementioned house are worse affected.
“The water come up in my business at knee length… When the salon flood out, it put mi outa business for couple days well,” he added.
Another house on the property, as well as a craft shop, is also not spared whenever flooding takes place.
The councillor for Linstead Division, Herbert Garriques, said he is aware of the residents’ plight.
He too is of the view that the problem was compounded when the state-owned National Works Agency (NWA) diverted the water that runs down King Street in Linstead whenever it rains.
He explained: “What happens is that there is a big drain in the middle of the main road coming from King Street, down to Ackee Pod Restaurant, and across the road into Bronx Street [where Stubbs is located]. I think NWA re-organized the main road just below Courts where there are two barber shops across from each other. The water used to run from [near] one of those barber shops to a place called Logan Street – Logan River.
“But the NWA re-structure the road and also turned the water coming from King Street down on to Bronx Street [where Stubbs is located]. So more volumes of water started to go down Bronx Street, and NWA did nothing to the drains down there nor to the sinkhole. That is probably part of the reason that volume of water goes there and gives the people problem,” the councillor added.
He opined that, if the drain on Bronx Street is cleaned at least twice per year, that would significantly reduce the likelihood of flooding.
“When I became the councillor, I realized that, if the sinkhole gets cleaned on a regular basis – even though rain will fall and the ponds will overflow, within less than an hour the water will subside,” he further said.
Garriques stated that he, as a councillor, does not have the financial resources required to clean the drain.
“It needs a whole heap of money to fix it, because the only equipment that can clean it is called an excavator; I am talking about one of the big excavators because it is a big sinkhole,” he said.
He added that, when he became councillor and first cleaned the drain on Bronx Street in 2013, the cost was $600,000. He estimates that it would now be about $1 million.
The Bronx Street drain, Garriques disclosed, was last cleaned about three or four years ago.
He also noted that he, as councillor, is responsible for 34 drains, sinkholes and ponds in the Linstead Division, adding that enough funds are not being provided for him to undertake the necessary maintenance.
According to Garriques, the St. Catherine Municipal Corporation provides him with only $350,000 annually for drain cleaning.
“Every year when I clean drain, I round-robin them,” he commented. “If a drain clean last year, it naah clean till two or three years time.”
The councillor added that he, along with Member of Parliament for St. Catherine North West Hugh Graham, recently visited Bronx Street where the flooding is taking place.
“I showed him and I asked him if he could lobby to get some money to clean the drain and he said he is going to speak to the NWA about it” Garriques further said.
He, in the meantime, lamented that the improper disposal of garbage by residents contributes to clogging of the drainage system on Bronx Street.
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