Double blow for St Mary citizens
Family of 13 needs help after house collapses, shop burgled

Jennifer Thompson does not know what her next move will be. (Kenyon Hemans)

When her daughter’s shop was robbed on October 20, she thought that was the worst that could have happened to the family. But six days later, their two-storey house collapsed after the soil underneath it washed away during what she described as continuous heavy rainfall in Richmond, South Eastern St Mary.

Deeming herself “bad lucked”, Jennifer Thompson recalled the morning disaster struck sometime after 7 o’clock. She said that when she exited the house on Tuesday morning, she saw “di place a jiggle” and beckoned to her relatives to immediately exit the premises.

“A whole heap a breeze an rain; mi did affi a wonder say how so much rain a fall,” the 55-year-old matriarch said, “rain pour man, it pour, pour, pour non-stop an’ about say three hours worth a nonstop rain.

“A fus me eva see di rain fall so hard fi dis good while. It fall an stop enuh, fall an stop, but it just continue pouring down. An memba we did have drought during dem time, so yuh know di place (soil) kinda open. So di water come now an come dat hard it jus soak an weh fi slip, slip off gone,” Thompson reasoned.

The four-bedroom, two-storey, wooden structure housed eight children and five adults. Now, the 13-member family has been split up, with some forced to sleep in an unstable, decrepit shack and others in the empty shop.

“Ova deh so neva have nothing; a wi fix dis up since it drop,” Thompson told the

Jamaica Observer of the shack. “Di framing was there, but nutten neva deh roun’ it. So a it we start zinc it up after inna di rain. Right now di whole place a wet up ‘cause we nuh have nobody fi put on di old zinc dem pan di top weh wi did have,” she said of their situation.

“But dat cyaa keep all a wi ‘cause a whole heap a wi,” she stated, “so mi jus nail up four piece a board an put in deh so ( the shop) fi lay down pan… an’ mi sleep over deh an’ one a mi granddaughter.”

When asked whether the family was able to save any of their possessions, Thompson listed only a king-sized bed and a dresser.

“Right now me jus’ a beg some help yah man, mi a beg some help,” a hopeful Thompson told the

Sunday Observer. “Mi nuh really did want it dis way, but mi nuh have no help so there is no other choice; none a wi nuh work, a one daughter mi have an’ shi work a St Ann’s an’ a bar work shi do.

“Everything mash up … TV, DVD, bed, dresser everything. Some a dem is jus di board a dem lef,” Thompson noted, pointing to the furniture, clothes, board and appliances that were strewn across the yard.

“Me jus buy one closet from one lady up deh so and it jus’ mash right up. Inna last month mi buy it. When shi come an shi see it, dat a di lady, she seh, ‘Oh God, Jennifer, sorry fi yuh man.”’

“Dis morning we a look sheet fi put pan di bed an cyaa find sheet. A one girl ova scheme mi go beg one sheet an’ put it pan di bed.”

Over the past weeks, persistent torrential rainfall has severely affected the eastern parishes of St Mary, St Thomas, St Ann and Portland, flooding multiple homes and rendering some roadways impassable and inundated.

Thompson, who lives close to the bank of what she called the Richmond River, reasoned that continuous showers which pelted the community of Richmond for the entire month of October made it easier for the damage to her home.

She stated that her grandchildren’s lives have been truly affected.

“You have one a go Marymount, two go St Mary Technical. [One a dem] shi don’t go school dis morning because di two uniform dem get destroy an’ a one wi could a able fi bleach out. Shi wear it yesterday now an it dirty so shi wash it dis morning fi get it ‘cause a white an shi a press it di iron soil up di whole a it. So mi affi go rub it out ina di morning here now an dry it fi shi go school tomorrow,” shi said.

When asked whether the family received help, Thompson revealed that two mattresses were donated by the St Mary Parish Council as well as $5,000 worth of groceries.

“But mi believe seh di Government would a try mek wi get likkle help from dem deh time till now, but wi nuh get no help,” Thompson stated with a look of disappointment.

Noting that she has interacted with both the Councillor for the Richmond Division Richard Creary and Member of Parliament for St Mary South Eastern Dr Winston Green, Thompson told the

Sunday Observer: “I don’t know what is di next move or wah; mi jus affi siddung an, wait an, watch.”

“Mr Green seh wi fi jus tek out di tings dem an see if we can put up sumn else an dem will help, but me neva like dat. Mr Creary seh him would a gi she (one of her daughters) one house, but him nuh know weh,” Thompson stated of the interactions.

“Mr Green nuh certain a weh him a do, ‘cause as mi seh, a wi fix up deh so (the shack) an di place a wet up an’ so on. Me believe seh him woulda try fi sort wi out that wi can get someweh fi stay or hurry up an’ mek wi get fi wi place ‘cause mi tell him seh wi have land. Mi father dead lef land wi can mek up one house pan, but mi nuh know,” she continued.

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