In the aftermath of heavy rains that led to extensive flooding and a preliminary repair cost of $16 million for collapsed drain walls in Portmore, St Catherine, Portmore Mayor Leon Thomas is spearheading efforts to address the issue.
Thomas is emphasising the need for a greater focus on drain construction by new housing developers, citing the impact of climate change and the likelihood of more frequent extreme weather events that will ultimately cause flooding.
“Portmore has outgrown its existing drainage capacity, where the network runs alongside yards, in yards and under houses,” said Thomas.
He expressed a concern that the current drains cannot handle the accumulation of storm water during severe weather, as witnessed in last week’s flooding across Waterford, Greater Portmore, Gregory Park, Westmeade, Garveymeade, and other communities.
The mayor assured residents that future housing developments will undergo scrutiny, with drains strategically located and capable of handling the storm water. He urged the National Works Agency (NWA) to widen the main drains that collect stormwater from communities, to prevent a backflow into residential areas, mitigating flood risks.
Regarding the $16-million repair estimate, Thomas said, “The damage from last week’s flooding was excessive, and the Municipal council’s engineering team assessed the collapsed walls in several concrete drains along with other damage created by the flood waters.”
Addressing a claim by Robert Miller, member of parliament for St Catherine South Eastern, Thomas disputed claims that councillors received $2.4 million for drain cleaning.
“Councillors received a total of $1.8 million for drain cleaning in installments,” he said, seeking to clarify while attributing the flooding to the uncleared Adair Drive drain.
Thomas questioned the utilisation of drain mitigation funds by Miller, highlighting a lack of apparent drain cleaning in his constituency.
As Portmore strives to recover from recent weather-related damage, the municipal council stressed the need to urgently fortify drainage infrastructure to withstand future challenges posed by climate change.