In Jamaica, Adventist Taxi Driver Rescues Father and Son from Flooded Home

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Henry Blair second from left shares his story of being rescued from the flood waters while church leaders form the Central Jamaica Conference Levi Johnson, president; Evereth Smith, community services director; Valbert Walker, Parish Coordinator, Clarendon. Image by Damian Chambers/CJC

May 4, 2017 | Clarendon, Jamaica | Damian Chambers/IAD

When flash-flood waters rushed into Owen Taylor’s church, the Palmetto Gardens Seventh-day Adventist Church in Clarendon, central Jamaica, he took swift action. He swam through the rising waters to the home next door, where Henry Blair and his adult son were trapped.

Outside view of the Palmetto Gardens Church submerged in water. Members said that six cars were on the outside of the church were all submerged. Image courtesy of Central Jamaica Conference

Taylor, a taxi driver, and Junior George Wilson, a member of the same church, carried out this rescue operation just after lunch on Sabbath, April 22, 2017.

“It rained all morning and we saw the water rising, but we were not alarmed because in the past, the water would simply go away after a time,” said Maynardo Fogah, church elder at Palmetto Gardens Church.

But in no time, water started pouring into the church. Soon after, the water had risen to his waist.

All 20 members of the church, who were in fellowship after lunch, had to take refuge in neighboring houses. Those who parked vehicles at the front of the church had no time to remove all six vehicles, which were submerged including Taylor’s taxi car.

Taylor heard Blair shouting for help from his home. After taking steps to secure himself, Taylor and Wilson swam across the 7-foot-high flood waters to open the gate of the house, went inside and found Blair and his son taking refuge in the attic.

“I had to tear down the ceiling to get them out of the house,” said Taylor. He gave them life jackets and used a rope to pull and guide them out of the water.

Community members reported that this was not the first time they were experiencing a flood, but it was the first time in over 20 years that they had ever seen it hit so hard.

Response to Flooding

View of the Pulpit area of the Palmetto Gardens Church the morning after the flood. The entire furniture of the church were covered under water. Image by Damian Chambers/CJC

Since learning of the situation in Palmetto Gardens, church administrators and leaders from the Central Jamaica Conference traveled there the following day to offer support to the church and surrounding community.

Church leaders talked and prayed with the residents who were most affected by the flood.

“We empathize with you and want the house of God to get back to normal as soon as possible,” said Pastor Levi Johnson present of the church in Central Jamaica. “The Conference will take on the expenses of cleaning up the church and the five most affected neighboring homes.”

In addition, through the community services department and the Parish Development Action Committee, Pastor Johnson ordered 30 mattresses and other supplies to be distributed to persons in the affected homes.

Persons from other areas in Clarendon, such as Denbigh, who were flooded out also received beds.

“We just want to address the immediate need of getting persons to at least sleep comfortably for the night,” Johnson added.

The conference administration is still monitoring the community in Palmetto Gardens and is offering continual support. See a report by the Central Jamaica Conference HERE

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Categories From the Field, RSS English | Tags: | Posted on May 4, 2017