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Corporation pledges help for disaster-hit Decoy

Published:Wednesday | September 2, 2020 | 12:27 AMJonielle Daley/Gleaner Intern
The collapsing home of Sydney Black is a grim reminder of the dangers residents of Decoy, St Mary, face as earth movements have damaged buildings and eroded farmland.
The collapsing home of Sydney Black is a grim reminder of the dangers residents of Decoy, St Mary, face as earth movements have damaged buildings and eroded farmland.

Weeks after a Gleaner report about the fears of Decoy residents that their homes and livelihoods were at increased risk because of a series of land slippages, the St Mary Municipal Corporation has reached out to address the pressing concerns.

The corporation has also disclosed that it supports the recommendation of geologist Professor Simon Mitchell that the community be declared unfit for future construction.

At least nine houses have been badly damaged by near-seismic shifts, and farmlands have been devoured by the river – victim of soil erosion from heavy rainfall.

Tiffany Smith-Black, a resident in Decoy, said that an August 18 meeting was held with parish disaster officials, who committed to assisting in the repair of graves damaged by the downpour.

The 32-year-old mother of three is one of several residents whose properties have been compromised by the slippages. She had told The Gleaner in a July interview that she had only four feet of backyard left after soil was pulled into the river.

Parish Disaster Coordinator Yolande Jankie and acting Assistant Superintendent of Road and Works Dornell Steadman have visited the area and requested the Mines and Geology Division to conduct an assessment and make recommendations.

INDEPENDENT ANALYSIS

Mitchell, along with a team from the Department of Geology and Geography at The University of the West Indies, Mona, undertook independent analysis in 2018.

The municipal corporation, however, said it had not been aware of The UWI’s evaluation.

The report findings were due to be discussed at the August 18 meeting with representatives from the St Mary Municipal Corporation, the National Works Agency, the Ministry of Health & Wellness, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, as well as Councillor Doreen Hutchinson, and St Mary Western Member of Parliament Robert Montague. However, the meeting was hit by several absences

A number of residents have, since 2018, been seeking assistance with new housing.

Executive director of charity Food For The Poor, Craig Moss-Solomon, said that his organisation approved one application in March 2020.

Montague said that local government officials would try to help the affected residents.

“The best efforts of the Government are being mobilised to not only treat with the issue but also to ensure the protection of the citizens and their property,” he said.

jonielle.daley@gleanerjm.com