DOMINICA: THAT'S THE SAME ROSEAU RIVER? (Part III) by Arlington James - EntornoInteligente

Dominica News Online / Roseau Market with a beach of sand, hundreds of logs and other debris, brought by the flooding Roseau River during Hurricane Maria

That’s the same Roseau River which, in May 2017, “received” its fifth two-lane bridge (which is still to be named). That bridge is arched, and equipped with coloured lights which illuminated the pillars and the water under and near the bridge, in changing colours of red, blue, green, and yellow at nights.

Oh boy! That is the same Roseau River which, on the night of Monday 18 th September 2017, combined its deadly forces with the winds of Category 5 Hurricane Maria , went on a rampage and wreaked so much havoc and destruction in Roseau, Pottersville, Bath Estate and Elmshall. The river:-

* Flooded Savanne Park, Paradise Valley/Bath Estate, and parts of Elmshall close to its left-hand bank.

* Destroyed the suspended sewage line that served the residents of the then recently occupied Elmshall Apartments. That line had been suspended over the river, between Elmshall and Bath Estate.

* Further severely eroded the southern apron and side of the Bath Estate Football Field, rendering the venue unfit for playing of football matches in its immediate post-Maria condition.

* Severely compromised the eastern abutment of the Bath Estate Bridge; climbed over the decking of that bridge; and flooded the ground-floor apartments in the Bath Estate Apartments near the bridge.

Pile-up of logs on Bath Estate Bridge, and raised bed of Roseau River, a few days after Hurricane Maria, September 2017

* Destroyed the ruins of the Bath Estate Suspension Bridge and further damaged the Stadium Bridge.

* Caused the collapse of the northern abutment of the E.C. Loblack Bridge, rendering that bridge unmotorable; and “surgically” removed the railings on both sides of the northern section of that same bridge, as well as the railings along both sides of the southern half of the Dominica-China Friendship Bridge.

* Flooded the more “level” part of Roseau, an area extending from the Windsor Park Link Road (at the back of the Stadium) and River Bank to the North; to Bath Road (including the Stadium) to the East; to part of Valley Road and the full length of King George V Street to the South, to the full length of Dame Mary Eugenia Charles Boulevard to the West.

That inundated area included the ground floors of Government Headquarters, the Computer Centre, Halsbro Medical, the Financial Centre and Dominica Social Security; the Police Headquarters; the Court House; the Roseau Fish and Produce Markets; the General Post Office; the three commercial banks and the National Co-operative Credit Union; Save-a-Lot, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Courts, H.H.V. Whitchurch, All Saints University; and most basements in the city, among so many other buildings, leaving behind hundreds of tons of sand and silt, hundreds of logs of assorted sizes and species, coconuts, and hundreds of thousands of gallons of flood water.

Great George Street with pile-up of vehicles, mounds of sand, and asphalt lifted from street surface, all caused by flooding from the Roseau River, as it raged during Hurricane Maria

* Just for the records, on 22 nd October 2017, this writer measured at three separate locations in downtown Roseau, the heights at which fine debris from the same Roseau River had been trapped during the “Maria Flooding”.

– 4ft 8in above the sidewalk, over the top of the stone step of a wooden building opposite Starrin & Sons on Hillsborough Street;

– 6ft above the sidewalk, over the stone step leading into Nitty’s Beauty Saloon near the bread depot on Great George Street; and

7ft 7in above the sidewalk, on metal bars near the door of Scottie’s Shop at the corner of Great George Street and River Bank.

(N.B. A man about 6ft in height attempting to carry a carton of beer or whisky on his head at the latter location would have been totally submerged, together with his load.)

* Washed away the small barber shop and about 8 snacketts & bars on lower River Bank, leaving several “little people” without the means to earn a living.

* “Looted”, ‘stole” or “moved without permission” scores of vehicles in Roseau and Pottersville during its rage. Some of those vehicles – or their wrecks – were never recovered.

* Piled up hundreds of debarked logs of assorted sizes and species in front of and under the Bath Estate Bridge, Stadium Bridge, E.C. Loblack Bridge, the New West Bridge and the Dominica-China Friendship Bridge.

* Flooded the entire suburb of Pottersville, from the river’s right-hand bank to near the foot of the front-steps of the St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church to Goodwill Road and Elliot Avenue, depositing tons of sand, silt, other debris, hundreds of huge debarked logs, and about 5 ft of muddy water, with logs floating on Potters Street, Steber Street etc even on the day after the storm.

Flood waters from the raging Roseau River during Hurricane Maria left Steber Street (above) and the rest of Pottersville under 5ft of flood water, sand, and hundreds of logs

That’s the same Roseau River which, during Maria, snatched a 5 year-old boy from his family at Pottersville, never to be seen again. The river almost carried away several other persons on River Bank, and may even have claimed other lives during the hurricane.

Yea, that’s the same river which had shaken a warning finger at Roseau during Erika, making some of us realise that the Stadium Bridge was of inappropriate design and was much too low over its bed.

That’s the same Roseau River on which a major dredging operation was started within months after ‘Maria’, beginning in January 2018 at the river mouth and progressing upstream. The convoy of red trucks hauling away the dredged material – with NO SPILLAGE on our roads – all bore the slogan DOMINICA STRONG! at the top of their windscreen.

Partially dredged Roseau River, at the back of the Stadium and downstream of “Sikwi”; February 2018

That’s the same river whose water, more than three months following Maria, had not returned to its normal “crystal clear” state, and even with light rains in the hills, becomes heavily turbid – assuming a coffee-and-milk colour – transporting large amounts of sediment from some major landslides in its watershed.

And yes, that’s the same Roseau River which, like what happened with the passage of Hurricane David in August 1979, provided water – heavily turbid as it were – to some of the residents of Bath Estate, Roseau and environs for washing and bathing following Maria.

All that and more is the Roseau River , which was helped by the winds of “Maria”, and the senselessness of “Marie-loot”, to wreak so much destruction in Roseau and Pottersville in particular. But, one wonders what Dominica’s capital would be like, without the Roseau or Queen’s River… which also flooded Kings Lane during Maria. You tell me!

DOMINICA: THAT’S THE SAME ROSEAU RIVER? (Part III) by Arlington James

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