A calm stream in South Rivers the morning after the flooding. (photo by Robertson S Henry)
News
August 31, 2021
We need to pay attention to how we treat the environment, says former Forestry employee

There is need for persons to be aware of the environment that they live and work in, how they build their houses, and how they conduct certain aspects of their daily life when it comes to monitoring the weather patterns and rainfall in the mountains.

Barry Williams, a former employee of the Forestry Department pointed this out to SEARCHLIGHT following the Friday August 20, 2021 flooding of Pasture in South Rivers village, adding that “it was a huge amount of rain which fell on the mountains, and when the South Rivers overflows, the Cumberland river also overflows at the same time.”

In explaining this, Williams said “there is a river on each side and even when the other rivers may or may not overflow, one should keep a close watch on the South Rivers stream and also Cumberland.

“There is eighteen feet span between the bottom of the river and the underside of the South Rivers’ bridge. There was no debris causing any blockage when the water came rushing down. It was just a huge amount of water which was just too much to pass beneath the bridge, and I am sure the same thing happened in the Cumberland River.”

Williams called for persons to treat the environment with greater care than they do at present pointing out: “We must stop doing a lot of what is being done in the mountains. The volcano eruptions have left plenty of burnt tree trunks on the slopes, and the amount of debris lying there is and should be cause for concern to all of us”.

He said “There is no warning when the river overflows. There are no signs that there is flood water coming. The engineers need to take another look at the river, the water flows, and what can be done to protect the houses for the walls which were built a long time ago, have been washed away by the river waters.

“How they were built was not made to last and while the rocks in the river help to maintain the environmental status quo, they cannot hold back nor control the flood waters.”

Williams is of the firm view that one of the biggest issues facing the South Rivers community is that “persons have built houses where one could say is the water channel when it overflows. In 2013 this was evident, and now in 2021.”

Williams currently operates a welding shop situated just at the edge of the South Rivers bridge. He said that his shop was never threatened by the raging waters, and he was a witness to the flood waters as it made its way down whatever pathway it could find.

He said he hopes that the government despite the many challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and the La Soufriere volcano eruptions, “will be able to work with the people to build a much needed river wall, especially along the banks of the river. But also we the people must stop our bad habits in the mountains.

“I have seen bare patches of land on the mountains. When the rains fall the soil washes away and it is the communities in the valleys which suffer. This river is clean and we try, for it is where people go to wash, bathe, have parties and relax. But who knows what will happen if the flood waters catch persons in the river,” Williams questioned.

“There is peace but plenty of danger and only if we pay attention to what we have to do, will South Rivers be spared a death from drowning in the river.”

Two women, Alicia Jack and her aunt Leona related to SEARCHLIGHT their narrow escape from a watery death when the river flooded Pasture where they were washing.