Life along the river will never be the same for residents of Matches Lane, Upper Richplain Road, Diego Martin.
The once-clear spring that residents used to supplement their pipe-borne supply has slowed to a dirty trickle. Residents say about nine feet of dirt, slush and debris have inundated their homes, their access bridge and buried their footpath. The very landscape of their community was changed when the river turned angry early last Saturday morning following heavy rains.
The small community, high atop the hills over Diego Martin, now smells of exposed sewage pipes, rotting debris and stagnant water. Residents are forced to pick their way across the slowly drying earth, toward homes mere inches away from the new pathway cut by the rushing waters.
They are nervous every time the rain falls and their nights have been uneasy since the early-morning landslide last Saturday ripped away several homes and took the life of 65-year-old Solomon Britto.
For the past five days, relatives and neighbours have been unable to return to their normal life. They are scared to go, afraid to stay, and can never forget the loud rumble of the time their own river turned against them.
"I hold on to my two children and I could feel the wall falling against my back and they were bawling, but I was just trying to make sure they didn't get hit," said Ricardo Nottingham.
Nottingham pointed further up the hill to his damaged home, separated from his uncle Britto by just one concrete wall—that too now destroyed.
"When I come out to look for my uncle, it was just to see that it was gone. The next time rain fall, they could be picking up five to six bodies instead of just my uncle. It could have been me and my children," he said.
"My room fall down, too," he said.
A concrete foundation, jutting out over the now-still avalanche of mud is all that remains of Britto's home, the structure completely washed away by the raging floods that came down the mountainside.
"It only take his piece because the water come from on top and the water was actually in the yard," he explained.
What remains of his home still sits high above the river bed, but evidence of the raging water could be seen along the base of the exterior wall.
He explained that the family grew up in the area and, as they got older, rooms were added on to the existing structure. The additions placed the house right on the edge of the river. He said the family spent their own money to build retaining walls along the river, some of which were still standing. Evidence of brickwork could also be seen on the exposed river bed, which Nottingham explained they put in to help slow access of the running water.
"How we going to sleep here when you hearing the rain falling?" he asked.
"If I hear rain falling here again, I running out of here like a mad man," he said.
Nottingham said he was aware of the dangers of living near or on the river bank, but said they did not just sit there waiting for a tragedy.
"I living up here about 35 years and the river come down already, but not like this," he said.
Omar Jeffrey, 38, lives on the other side of the river, the stairs to his home buried by mud, the new river path runs under his foundation.
He pointed to the roof of a neighbour's house which now stood as high as his hip.
"We used to have to jump to touch this roof.
"Look at the amount of mud come down here and bury this wall, bury this house," he said.