A teacher who four months ago moved into her brand new house is now finding it impossible to sleep in it whenever it rains.
Sheri Edwards told iWitness News on Thursday that she can no longer sleep in her Middle Road, Belair house whenever it rains because of a landslide at the top of a slope next to her house that is pushing mud onto her property.
The landslide began on Sept. 28 as Tropical Storm Matthew was affecting St. Vincent.
Now, part of a house at the top of the slope has broken away, making the situation even graver.
“The houses at the top, they were compromised and part of the slide pushed onto my house,” Edwards, said, adding that the landslide destroyed her kitchen as well as the perimeter walls and fencing.
And this week, as the country was drenched in rains from a trough system, the situation worsen, with a portion of a house above Edwards’ breaking off from the rest of the structure around 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Edwards moved into the house on June 1 after building on lands she bought from her uncle.
She said the area does not have a history of land slippage.
Further, there is no slippage on her property, but her yard is full of debris from the landslide.
“I am concerned because you never know what could happen here if this comes down any more,” she told iWitness News.
“To be honest, I don’t sleep. Once it’s raining, I don’t sleep. So, what I would do is when it stops [raining], I will get whatever sleep I can, but once it starts raining, I am up with the rain. [Wednesday] morning, I got up around minutes to 4 when it started to rain and last night when it stopped, I went to sleep. But, once it is raining, I am always out here watching, looking to see what is happening,” she told iWitness News from her patio.
She said that her monitoring includes her kitchen, where mud had entered the house.
Edwards said that she thinks that demolishing the house next to hers, which she believes is compromised, and clearing the debris from the landslide can rectify the situation.
She said that a lot of the debris is not now on her property even after she clean about seven feet of mud from the property after the September event.
“We worked, used manpower and took it down,” she said, adding that whatever is there now will be a threat to her.
Asked about her interaction with the government after the landslide, Edwards told iWitness News that when it first happened, “everybody who should know came”.
She said they promised to bring in some machinery to help, but when the operators came a few days after, he said he needed another piece of equipment.
But when an employee from the government’s Road, Bridges and General Service Authority (BRAGSA) came to assist, Edwards said she got the impression that it was the first time he was even seeing the magnitude of the slide “because he himself was surprised.
“So, I was like, ‘Why would you send something and you don’t even know what it’s coming to do?’” Edwards said, recounting her conversation with the BRAGSA employee.
She said the BRAGSA employee took photos and left and then a state-employed engineer visited.
“And the first question they asked [was] if I have insurance. And they told me let my insurance deal with my issue. Yes, my insurance has dealt with me but my insurance can’t clear private property,” Edwards said of the houses nearby.
She added: “And nobody is saying anything and I am at a loss because I am thinking, something happened like this, you have … a meeting with the homeowners who are affected, let us know what’s happening, what’s the way forward, but nobody is saying anything at all. They are just driving through and they might just stop and take a picture and leave…. So I feel really hopeless and I can imagine how the persons at the top feel. They probably feel a lot more hopeless than I feel, because they are in grave danger,” Edwards said.
She told iWitness News that the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) has provided rented accommodation for the occupants of the house next to hers.