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'We cannot handle any more,' Jamaican parliament member says after storms Zeta, Eta

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald on

Published in Weather News

Back-to-back tropical storms over the past few weeks, Zeta and Eta, have left Jamaica digging itself out from under washed-out roads, swollen rivers and ravaging landslides that have left at least two people dead and homes buried underneath water and mud.

The hardest hit of the country's parishes, St. Andrew, was still dealing with reports of water flowing down from the hills on Tuesday as the government hoped for a break in the severe weather and assessments of the devastation countrywide are ongoing.

"I really pray we do not have any more systems," said Juliet Holness, the member of Parliament for St. Andrew East Rural. "We cannot handle any more at this time."

There is, however, another storm brewing. It's currently a tropical wave in the Eastern Caribbean and has a 70% chance of forming into a tropical depression over the weekend. If it becomes a tropical storm, it will be named Iota, from the Greek alphabet.

An unusually active 2020 hurricane season left no more names on the regular list as of Sept. 18, and forced the National Hurricane Center, for the second time in 15 years, to turn to the Greek alphabet for storm names. Subtropical Storm Theta formed in the Atlantic Monday night. It poses no threat to land but made 2020 a record-breaking storm season.

"The damage has been absolutely severe," Holness told the Miami Herald about Eta, which drenched South Florida with heavy rains on Monday. "Roads have to be rebuilt, bridges rebuilt, retaining walls rebuilt just to be able to traverse the area."

 

Other parishes in Jamaica have been affected as well. Residents have reported boulders, trees and soil tumbling down from the hillsides during Eta's pounding rains. On Monday, the country's National Works Agency warned residents of St. Elizabeth parish that it was closely monitoring the New Market area.

"Floodwaters are rising in the area and now impacting the road to Carmel. This road leading to Westmoreland is now impassable," the NWA tweeted.

Blockages were also reported in the parishes of Clarendon, St. Catherine and Trelawny.

Juliet Holness, the wife of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who recently won a second consecutive term in office, said her parish of roughly 100,000 residents is by far the hardest hit. The reason, she said, is due to the land mass in St. Andrew, and the hills, which have been known to break away from time to time.

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