Front Page
November 19, 2004

A premonition in one instance and quick feet in another, saved lives last Wednesday morning when a hillside crashed down on four houses in Byera.

Two of the houses were extensively damaged when the wall of mud came down on them at Byera Flat. {{more}}

Selwyn Ollivierre said that it was God who made him persuade his common-law wife Minerva Grant to move herself and their one-year, five-day-old baby Princess Grant from the bedroom where they were sleeping.

Said Ollivierre, “I could not sleep and I tell her move off the bed and come and lay down in the living room on a mattress that I had set up.”

Reluctantly Grant moved, taking Princess. Soon after that the first slide came down, followed by a bigger one which covered the bed on which Grant and Princess were sleeping as mud, stones and trees came crashing through the roof.

Ollivierre, who normally resides in England, said that he just, “didn’t feel right whole night”. Minerva said she had been living in this area over 27 years and this was the first time something like this happened.

But Princess wasn’t out of danger yet, moments before the second landslide occurred, the baby’s sister Adah McMillan took her from a little child who was holding her in the yard.

“I hear somebody say ‘run’ and I start to run to the bayside with Princess,” said McMillan, who added that as she ran she could hear and feel debris from the landslide hitting her back, “I never look back,” recalls Adah.

As Adah ran for her life, the landslide knocked over Sherries Ellis’ fence, damaging her door and crashing into the side of Raymond Gonsalves’ house, sprewing debris through his daughter Jacintha’s bedroom window.

Gonsalves said he looked up Wednesday morning after seven and saw the mountain coming down, “I start to run,” he said.

Six persons occupy the Gonsalves’ household. When SEARCHLIGHT visited Jacintha was in the process of cleaning up her room which was filled with mud and glass from the broken windows.

Next door, the landslide also came through Michael and Annetha Woods’ roof. Michael said that he was in the yard during the second slide and was wondering if the slide would hit his wife and child who were in the house at the time, he said that he was relived when it didn’t. His house sustained extensive damage to the roof. The carpenter says that he will be sleeping at home tonight.

Minister of Transport, Works and Housing Julian Francis visited the area last Wednesday. Francis assured that assistance will be provided for the residents by National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO). He said that they were currently in the process of looking for houses to rent for the residents until their homes are repaired. He said that he is however concerned that if more rains came, there would be more slides. He said that residents in this area were encouraged to move since 1979 when it was acknowledged that the area was a danger zone.

A number of persons have been living in the area for over 25 years.