Land clearing can cause landslides, warns NWA | New
With Jamaica now out of danger with the passage of Hurricane Ian, the National Works Agency (NWA) is warning members of the public to be aware that their practices of clearing land for agriculture or housing construction could trigger landslides, like what happened in several parishes.
Janel Ricketts, community relations manager for the NWA’s West Regional Office, issued the warning Wednesday during the update the gleaner on the agency’s ongoing cleanup efforts in western Jamaica following recent rains associated with the Category 5 storm that hit western Cuba and Florida.
“In terms of disaster preparedness, even though we have state agencies responsible for different elements such as the main road network and the drainage system, citizens must also be proactive for their own protection. On hilly terrain, if you remove the vegetation that holds the ground together, over time you’re going to have landslides there,” Ricketts said.
“It’s depending on how you clear the areas for farming, especially along the hillside when you clear the vegetation, but the vegetation helps hold the soil together. Also, when it comes to where you build your houses, you have to be careful and try as best you can to avoid certain areas,” she added, “For example, you really shouldn’t build of houses along the banks of the ravines. To protect your own interests, your lives, and your property, you really need to know where you’re building, and you also need to build according to the terrain.
Trelawny, Hanover and Westmoreland were among several parishes in Jamaica where communities were significantly affected by landslides during rains caused by the weather system between last Saturday and Monday this week.
Locations affected included the Cash Hill Road in Dundee and the Cascade Road in Jericho in Hanover; the Wire Fence to Warsop road at Trelawny; and the roads from Hopeton to Auchindown, from Torrington to Pennycooke and from Ferris to Maxfield in Westmoreland.
While St James has had a history of flooding during heavy rains, the NWA has had no reports of flood damage or landslides in the parish despite heavy rains also affecting the area.
Regarding a more in-depth storm damage assessment, Ricketts said the NWA continues to be in watch mode, even during cleanup activities in some communities.
“We are continuing with the cleaning efforts that we had before, so that’s basically where we are now. It’s an ongoing situation with the rain continuing to fall, and we’re just on alert for any eventuality,” she said, “From Thursday to Friday last week, we did a lot of work in terms of cleaning drains all over the area, and we keep doing that. Even today (Wednesday) we are cleaning the drains along the sleek hallway.
Drain cleaning work had already been carried out near the Blue Diamond complex in Ironshore, St James, and along the road in Whitehouse, Westmoreland, before the storm arrived.
Several schools across Jamaica have suspended in-person classes until Tuesday due to inclement weather, which triggered extensive flooding in St Mary’s, St Catherine’s, Clarendon and Portland.