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Wife’s appeal after floods stop care worker getting to disabled husband

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Phyllis and Francis Jeffers have safety concerns in face of flooding in their area of residence (Photograph supplied)

A care worker was blocked from getting to the house of an elderly disabled man because of major flooding, The Royal Gazette can reveal.

Phyllis Jeffers (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The caregiver could not get his bike along Mill Creek Road in Pembroke last Monday after the street, a notorious flooding spot, was made impassable by heavy rain.

Francis Jeffers, who turned 75 at the weekend, needs professional help every day because he has multiple sclerosis and is unable to walk.

Mr Jeffers’ wife Phyllis, 74, is able to assist him with some tasks, but cannot lift him.

The care worker did not find out until the next day he could get to the house along Travellers Lane.

The private road, however, is in a serious state of disrepair, so he had to abandon his bike at the top of the lane and walk the rest of the way.

Ms Jeffers said: “Our caregiver couldn’t get in because he has a bike and the water was almost two feet high.

“The following day he had to leave his bike at the top of Travellers Lane and walk down.”

She added: “I had to manage myself on the first night. I had to bathe Francis and get him ready for bed but I can’t lift him – he’s over six feet tall.

“We have just one neighbour who kindly came to help lift him into bed.

“I hate to be a nuisance to our neighbour, but he is understanding.”

Ms Jeffers said she feared what could happen in an emergency if a vehicle was unable to get to the house from either road.

Ms Jeffers added Travellers Lane was ”treacherous“ and was unsuitable for use in a crisis if Mill Creek Road was flooded.

She said: “I couldn’t get Francis out in an emergency. There are times he has appointments he can’t get to because of the flooding.

“An ambulance, if the floods are extreme, might end up stalled.

“I don’t remember it ever being as bad as it was this year – the tides are coming up much more frequently.”

Ms Jeffers added that she feared that flood water could damage the couple’s own specially-adapted van.

She said: “Another big concern is, we had to purchase a handicapped van for him and driving through the salt water will destroy the car.

“I already had a car break down because of driving through the salt water.”

Ms Jeffers added it would help if Travellers Lane was made more useable.

She said suggestions to ease the flooding problem including installation of pumps or construction of a bridge.

But she added: “There is nothing else we can do but live with it, at the moment.”

Susan Jackson, the One Bermuda Alliance MP for the area, said she was “frustrated“ by regular flooding from Pembroke Canal.

Ms Jackson said: “Over the last few years, we have worked with and spoken with the concerned businesses and residents in the area and we haven’t been able to come up with a solution.

“At one point, we thought it was about keeping the sluice gate, which gets filled with trash, cleared out – there used to be someone who cleared that out, but that has been ceased.

“I did read that the government had started to do some work to relieve the canal overflow – there was some hope, but it hasn’t happened in terms of any relief there.”

Phyllis Jeffers (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Ms Jackson added: “It is a tough one. Travellers Lane is private, so Works & Engineering doesn’t have jurisdiction.

“I understand it has been allowed to deteriorate, become overgrown and obstructed.”

She said: “I believe that the Government is aware of the canal flooding issue – I believe the Jeffers were included in correspondence from concerned citizens a few years ago.

“I would suspect that there are quite a few complexities – it has been going on for years. It would likely be a major infrastructure project, but It would bring a lot of relief to inhabitants, businesses and consumers that use and navigate through the roads.”

The Government did not respond to questions by press time.

The Ministry of Public Works allocated $200,000 in the 2021/22 Budget to deal with flooding problems in Pembroke.

Plans announced in April included regular cleaning and maintenance in the canal area, as well as valve and grate upgrades.

A ministry spokesman said at the time the work would “reduce the occurrence of floods”.

Businesses and area residents have complained about the flooding in the area for years and a campaign group was formed in 2015.

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Published November 16, 2021 at 8:29 am (Updated November 16, 2021 at 8:29 am)

Wife’s appeal after floods stop care worker getting to disabled husband

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