Mon | Dec 11, 2017

Marooned every time it rains - Orange Tree residents beg for a proper bridge

Published:Thursday | November 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMShanna Monteith
A Orange Tree, St Thomas, resident looks on as she is marooned by the Yallahs River just outside the community.
A section where a footbridge leading into the community of Orange Tree, St Thomas, once was.
1
2

Nestled in the hills of St Thomas and peacefully tucked away just outside of Llandewy is a community called Orange Tree, which is home to approximately 15 persons.

The residents describe their humble abode as a serene get-away from the usual hustle and bustle of the town of Yallahs, some 15 minutes away.

And though they have to walk some distance to access basic amenities, they say that they wouldn't trade their home for the world.

But they have been struggling with a somewhat insurmountable hurdle that needs immediate attention: they are marooned every time it rains.

Speaking with The Gleaner yesterday, Audrey Brown, who goes by the name Cherry, said that the footbridge used to access the community is washed away whenever the Yallahs River is in spate.

"A long time it stay suh. From Gilbert in '88, the big bridge weh we used to use mash up, and from dat, a we as citizens build a little bridge weh we can go cross to go bout we business," she said, adding that the original bridge allowed for vehicles in and out of the community.

 

NOWHERE IN SIGHT

 

The footbridge Brown referred to was nowhere in sight as muddy waters from the Yallahs River, which is now in spate due to heavy ongoing rains, pose a divide between the two pieces of land.

"Mi leave out this morning good-good, and now mi can't go back over. This has been affecting us badly, man. See, right now, mi stuck over here with me daughter and her three children, including a baby, and we can't go over. We inna one suit of clothes. We nuh have nothing on this side," said Brown, reliving an ordeal that she had obviously grown tired of.

"Mi can't go cross to feed mi chicken dem, and so forth. We just have to stay over here until the water draw down little we try and go cross."

Noting that though they had to be extremely careful when crossing the river, they had become somewhat accustomed to doing so.

 

WASTED BREAD AND BUTTER

 

Brown is but one of the residents who depend on the sale of their farm produce to make a living.

Their 'bread and butter' often goes to waste when for days, sometimes weeks, they are unable to carry the goods over to the other side.

The 40-year-old recalled an instance when a pregnant woman had to be transported by helicopter when it was time for her to deliver her baby.

"Inna weh day, a di same helicopter did affi come back with food when the whole heap a rain a fall and we couldn't go nowhere. Yuh tink a little time pickney miss school?" Brown said as she shook her head in despair.

But despite the challenges, residents of Orange Tree say that all they want from the Government is a proper bridge.

"Duh! We a beg! Just build back a decent bridge weh the river won't be able to destroy. If we could build it ourselves, we would, but this bigger than we. We need help!" Brown pleaded.