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Stabroek News

Gustav unleashes wrath on St Mary
published: Sunday | August 31, 2008

Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photograppher
Omar Newman looks on what is left of the house in which he lives in Broadgate, St Mary. Some four homes were washed away by the Wag Water River after the passage of Tropical Storm Gustav on Friday.

Petrina Francis, Staff Reporter

EVAN McPHERSON, 54, weathered hurri-canes Ivan and Dean without much damage, but Tropical Storm Gustav was not so merciful.

She has lived in Broadgate, St Mary, for the last 10 years with her husband Douglas, in a six-apartment house. But after the passage of Tropical Storm Gustav she lost her home to the Wag Water River.

About 12:30 a.m. last Friday, McPherson and her husband were awaken by the 'smell' of the river.

"When wi go outside we si the river way up under the house. By di time mi look, the house start tear wey," recalls a devastated McPherson.

As the house began to give way, Douglas fell on the river bank under several sheets of zinc. His wife had to rescue him.

"Wi neva get fi save anything at all, everything wash wey inna the river. The only thing left back was the veranda," she says.

Danean Brown, who rented a three-bedroom house from McPherson's brother, also lost his home to the river. He had been living in the community for the last five years. He says when he woke up about 12:30 Friday morning he saw that the water was rising quickly under the house. He quickly began moving out his things but he only managed to get one bed out.

Too rough

"Mi try fi tek out the dresser, too, but the water got too rough and the house tore down with it," said Brown sadly.

Brown and McPherson say they have much to be thankful for because, though they lost everything, they have their lives.

Another victim of Gustav, Michael Francis, is devastated. The place where he called home for six years has been wrecked by the tropical storm. The only evidence that the house existed is the flooring of the veranda.

Francis says he was at his mother's house nearby when he saw the river overflowing its bank. He then decided to check on his house. When he got there, the house where he lived with his twin daughters and his spouse had collapsed into the Wag Water River.

"I don't know what I am going to do right now because I lost everything," Francis tells The Sunday Gleaner.

Safer location

Member of Parliament for South East St Mary, Tarn Peralto, says he would be assisting the residents to relocate to a safer location.

"We are just at the moment helping them to transport what they have managed to save to the homes of their relatives," he states.

Peralto adds that he has already located a new site for one of the residents, and will be making arrangements to start building.

Linford Danvers, councillor for the Castleton division, says the issue of individuals building their homes along river banks is a serious concern.

"When I saw the houses going down (the foundation) was purely sand. So, what I realise is that they were building illegally. We have to caution residents from doing this," Danvers states.

Additional reporting by Athaliah Reynolds and Keisha

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