Major flooding hit Jamaica's Montego Bay, the capital of Saint James Parish in the country's northwest, on Wednesday, November 22, 2017. The flooding brought traffic to a standstill, flooded buildings, stranded numerous residents and resulted in severe infrastructural damage.
Heavy rains lashed the city for over four hours on Wednesday afternoon, trapping residents in schools and workplaces, and causing 'severe infrastructural damage on a scale not seen in many years,' The Jamaica Gleaner reports.
"We have some students and teachers who are trapped, so unless a way can be found to get them home, chances are that they will have to spend the night at the school," a teacher told The Gleaner. "Some parents have called to say they will be walking to the school to get their children. Some are coming from as far as five miles [8 km] away."
The flooding, blamed by many on the city's drainage system, created severe traffic congestion in many areas, including Freeport, Bogue and Rose Hall. Many buildings were flooded as the drains were not able to manage the several inches of rain that was dumped on the city.
"We were traveling along Union Street when water came from nowhere and just started to wash away the vehicle. I had to secure my family members and take refuge at the top of a nearby building," the man who identified himself only as Charles told Loop News.
Montego Bay's Mayor and Chairman of the St James Municipal Corporation, Councillor Homer Davis, said Thursday that a 'major emergency clean-up project is being undertaken across the city starting today.' Davis added that following consultation with the Ministry of Education, a decision was also taken to close all affected schools across Montego Bay at least until Friday.
Motorists who do not have to visit the city are advised to stay away as lengthy delays are expected during clean-up.
Residents are calling authorities to properly address the city's drainage system widely seen as inadequate.
November 24 @ 22:08 UTC
"In four hours, Montego Bay got 94 mm (3.7 inches) of rain, that's 96% of the rain it would get monthly because on average, the town receivers 102 mm (4.01 inches) in November," said Kareen Gourzong, head of the Weather Branch in the Meteorological Services.
"So the combination of getting all this rainfall in a short space of time, and the rainwater runoff from other areas of the watershed, plus other factors like the width of the roadways caused this flood," she added. (Source: Loop Jamaica)
Featured image: Flooding in Montego Bay, Jamaica on November 22, 2017. Credit: DCS TV