It’s com­pli­cated, and last ex­trem­i­ties of men­tal agony

Jamaica Gleaner - - IN FOCUS PLUS - Eger­ton Chang

THE RACE for US pres­i­dent has been get­ting closer and more com­pli­cated. With the ‘piv­ot­ing’ of Don­ald Trump and the pneu­mo­ni­ain­duced ‘faint’ and ‘de­plorables’ com­ment of Hil­lary Clin­ton, the polls have be­come much closer.

Mark you, Trump hasn’t re­ally piv­oted. All he has done is min­imise his in­flam­ma­tory tweets/com­ments with­out walk­ing/tak­ing back past provoca­tive and in­cen­di­ary state­ments.

For in­stance, his racist ‘birther’ is­sue say­ing that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the US and con­se­quently is an il­le­git­i­mate pres­i­dent, or at best, an as­ter­isked one, has just been walked back by Trump in a one­liner. This has not con­vinced his sup­port­ers, 40 per cent or whom still be­lieves Obama is not an Amer­i­can. A sub­stan­tial per­cent­age of them also be­lieves he is a Mus­lim.

Un­for­tu­nately, Clin­ton’s re­cent ‘over­heat­ing’ episode plays into the un­trust­wor­thy meme she has been tagged with for the greater part of her cam­paign.

The truth is, Trump has been given such a pass by the ‘ly­ing’ press that his med­i­cal records, his Trump Foun­da­tion, his Trump Univer­sity and his po­lit­i­cal pay for play a la Florida’s at­tor­ney gen­eral, Pam Bondi, have not been given the same de­gree of scru­tiny or fact-check­ing as Clin­ton.

Nev­er­the­less, we live in the real world, not in the world we wish it would be.

When all is said and done, what is the net re­sult on the polls, the in­di­ca­tors of what the re­sults of the Novem­ber elec­tions might be?

As of Thurs­day morn­ing, Septem­ber 22, Nate Sil­ver’s FiveThir­tyEight had Hil­lary with a 58.8 per cent chance of win­ning against Trump’s 41.2 per cent, while the Prince­ton Elec­tion Con­sor­tium had it at 69 per cent for a Clin­ton pres­i­dency.

This is con­sid­er­ably tighter than five weeks ago when Trump’s chances of win­ning was likened to a kicker miss­ing a field goal at­tempt, mean­ing vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble. This con­trac­tion is best demon­strated by the odds be­ing of­fered by the book­mak­ers.

Thus, while Pad­dyPower was Box­ing pro­moter Don King lis­tens as Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump speaks to the Pas­tors Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence at New Spirit Re­vival Cen­ter on Septem­ber 21 in Cleve­land, Ohio.

of­fer­ing (Au­gust 18) 2/9 for Hil­lary and 3/1 for Trump some five weeks ago, the odds have lengthened con­sid­er­ably for Clin­ton to win be­ing now (Septem­ber 21) 8/15, with Trump pay­ing 17/10, a true twohorse race.

The fact is that the re­cent trend bodes badly for the Clin­ton sup­port­ers. If this trend isn’t staunched soon and very soon, the game for her might well be over. And there seems to

be mo­men­tum build­ing on the Repub­li­can side.

Can we live with a Trump pres­i­dency - with a Repub­li­can­con­trolled House and Se­nate?

I am ner­vous.


Ac­cord­ing to Dr Ham­mond, who was called to the scene, it was one he would never for­get as long as he lived: “Men, women and chil­dren ly­ing on the ground, rolling over, clutch­ing hand­fuls of grass, stones and earth, and scream­ing aloud in the last ex­trem­i­ties of men­tal agony” as they searched for their loved ones who seemed to be lost to them for­ever.

That was a Gleaner re­port of the June 24, 1904 Bog Walk wa­ter flume calamity as re­searched by Re­becca Tortello for the Gleaner se­ries Pieces of the Past.

It is said that the 6,200-foot­long, eight-foot-di­am­e­ter ‘tube’ was one of the largest such pipes in the world at that time. With its 1,700,000lb of cast iron and 260,000 riv­ets, this must have been a won­der to be­hold.

While trav­el­ling to Bog Walk and be­yond as a child, in the late 1950s to 1960s, the remnants of this hy­dro­elec­tric marvel of the West In­dia Elec­tric Com­pany was un­mis­tak­ably and starkly to be seen on the banks of the Rio Co­bre.

We were con­stantly re­galed with sto­ries of the tragedy that un­folded in that tube many years be­fore when 27, 35, 49 men (the num­ber chang­ing de­pend­ing on which of our el­ders was the teller) per­ished.

The con­sen­sus of these sto­ry­tellers was that the dead men’s job was to clean the tube of sand, silt and de­bris. And that they were drowned when the wa­ter was ac­ci­dently turned on, ap­par­ently not know­ing that the men were still in it. So the story we were told went.

Even so many years later, our young minds could imag­ine the des­per­ate plight and an­guish they and their loved ones must have en­dured.

To quote from Pieces of the Past:

The early morn­ing of June 24, 1904 dawned clear and crisp. In Span­ish Town, St Cather­ine, and other ar­eas out­side of Kingston, men and women were lined up wait­ing to catch their tram to work as usual. They waited un­til they re­alised it was not com­ing. The lucky ones caught rides in wag­onettes and bug­gies; the un­lucky set out on foot.

No one was quite sure what had hap­pened – only that there had been a tem­po­rary de­lay that would soon be fixed. By the time eight o’clock rolled around, wild ru­mours had be­gun to cir­cu­late about a hor­ri­ble ac­ci­dent at the Bog Walk Power Sta­tion that had af­fected the tram­car sys­tem run by the West In­dia Elec­tric Com­pany.

It was said that up to 80 men who had been clean­ing silt and de­bris in the eight-foot-wide cast-iron pipe (also known as a flume) that car­ried wa­ter from the Rio Co­bre River (sic) to the power sta­tion had been washed into the tur­bines and drowned.

By 9 o’clock, rail­way sta­tions, news­pa­per of­fices, any­where in­for­ma­tion could pos­si­bly be found, were packed with anx­ious en­quir­ers. Much later, the only news to be had was that 33 coffins were sent out to Bog Walk by train.


In Bog Walk, by this time, crowds had gath­ered at the power sta­tion.

Thirty-three were be­lieved dead and 17 miss­ing. A few hours later, it was con­firmed that the 17 had man­aged to es­cape through a man­hole near to the dam it­self.

At one o’clock early that morn­ing, 61 men had gone down into the huge pipe lo­cated about 15 yards from the power sta­tion. The pipe curved slightly up­ward and then sharply down­ward run­ning di­rectly into the power sta­tion it­self. The men en­coun­tered about a foot of wa­ter and got down to work as usual.

Colin Mc­Don­ald, one of the sur­vivors, in speak­ing to a Gleaner re­porter at the scene, ex­plained that within an hour of go­ing into the pipe, he felt the wa­ter level rise but he didn’t think it was any­thing to worry about. It couldn’t have been com­ing from the dam be­cause the dam was closed. It was al­ways closed when the men were work­ing in the pipes.

But the wa­ter kept ris­ing slowly, but surely and by 4:00 a.m., the men started to panic. Their su­per­vi­sor, a Mr Doupar­rouzel, ap­par­ently tried to keep his men calm by telling them there was plenty of time to get out - there was an exit closer to the dam. But his men pan­icked and threw their torches into the wa­ter so that they were all cov­ered in dark­ness.

Soon, it was said, a man ap­peared at the man­hole with a torch light­ing the way and call­ing to the men. Twenty-eight man­aged to get out in the over 20 min­utes it took for the wa­ter to fill the pipe.

Ac­cord­ing to Gleaner records of the event, Doupar­rouzel, dis­traught by the ex­pe­ri­ence and try­ing his best to come to terms with this catas­tro­phe, could only seem to say that the wa­ter must have over time swelled to the point where it rushed over the sand and de­bris to flood the pipe.

Although no one lived to tell this tale, it is be­lieved that three of the men lo­cated in a very nar­row sec­tion of the pipe, pan­ic­stricken, Doupar­rouzel ex­plained, had tried to exit through a two-foot, eight- inch­wide man­hole at the same time and ef­fec­tively formed a hu­man plug, en­tomb­ing all 30 be­hind them.

These 33 were found drowned, all heaped to­gether, their clothes torn, their faces and bod­ies com­pletely mu­ti­lated.

While the gen­eral feel­ing was that some­one had blun­dered some­where for that level of wa­ter to have ap­peared, en­su­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions ruled the catas­tro­phe an ac­ci­dent, small con­so­la­tion to the many who suf­fered great losses.




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