Jamaica – Over 280 Roads Damaged by Floods From Tropical Storms Eta and Zeta

More than 280 roads have been damaged by heavy rainfall and flooding in Jamaica in the last 3 weeks.

Flood damage in Bull Bay, Jamaica, November 2020. Photo: ODPEM

Heavy rainfall associated with Tropical Storms Eta and Zeta has affected the island since late October 2020. Prior to flooding brought by Hurricane Eta, heavy rain from Tropical Storm Zeta triggered flash flooding and a deadly landslide in St Andrew on 23 October.

In a statement of 10 November, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, said:

“Under the previous system (Tropical Storm Zeta) we had 80 roads (impacted), and under this system (Tropical Storm Eta) we have assessed 206 roads. There will be a bill that we have to contemplate as a Parliament, as to how we recover.”

The Prime Minister said he has instructed the National works Agency (NWA) “to ensure that all the necessary technical work is done expeditiously in order to get this issue resolved. It will require major efforts and time to have the road connected at this location, given the challenging landscape”.

Some of the worst of the recent flooding occurred in the Bull Bay area. Heavy-duty equipment is to be brought in to assist in desilting the Chalky River, which has been a source of some of the flooding that has impacted that community.

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) has deployed its Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to the Bull Bay area. The DART is the JDF’s disaster response mechanism comprised of engineers, infantrymen, logisticians and other support staff.

DART is currently coordinating with Jamaica’s Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) to determine where there may be other critical needs for future local deployments.

Meanwhile more heavy rainfall is likely in parts of the Caribbean, including Jamaica, over the coming days. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in the USA reported on 12 November:

“A tropical wave located over the central Caribbean Sea continues to produce a large area of showers and  thunderstorms. Satellite imagery indicates that the disturbance is gradually becoming better organized, and a  tropical depression will likely form during the next 2 to 3 days as it moves slowly westward over the central and western Caribbean Sea.”

A tropical depression will likely form in Caribbean over the next few days according to NHC. Image: NHC