Tuesday, August 21st, 2007...8:33 pm

Flying zinc, helping others and my mother (Part I)

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If they weren’t huddled inside The Gleaner building on North Street working round-the-clock covering Hurricane Dean, our journalists were busy doing what everyone was trying to do: survive it. Published in parts I, II and III are the individual experiences of the Gleaner Online team …

Jermaine Evans, Gleaner Online Reporter

At home in downtown Kingston the day started calm but a little wet with some deciding to play football in the street. And by midday my neighbours openly doubted whether the hurricane would come at all. But then at about 2 p.m., Dean came and I picked up my camera.

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Photos by Jermaine Evans: repairs went on during (left) and (right) after the storm.

Moving up the road with my friends, we had to be watching each other’s back and stick to walking on the sidewalks to make us less exposed – something we learned during Ivan. While I took pictures, my friends had to be alert in case any zincs, trees and light poles came down or were thrown at us by the wind.

It wasn’t long before we saw a zinc fence being blown and then from out of nowhere a man jumped out, grabbed the soon-to-disappear section of his property, and quickly began nailing it down.

There were still people outside in the storm, despite the winds becoming harsher, making the raindrops sting our faces.

Trees fell, blocking entrances to people’s yards and rooftops started coming off like a banana being peeled. The zincs were just flying off one by one, with one passing right over our heads.

By 6 p.m. I had changed clothes and my newest change was now soaked through, despite my yellow raincoat.

It was then, standing inside a shop, that I heard a loud and unmistakable explosion – gunshots.

Peeking outside the shop I saw a few overall-clad men running down the road, followed by more gunshots. Taking another look I saw them run into different yards; behind them followed police in black raincoats moving cautiously down the road.

Their caution was well justified since as soon as the police reached toward the end of the road, the men ran out and fired upon them forcing the police to take cover behind whatever was available.

Minutes of gunfire followed before the men disappeared leaving the police to advance further into the lane, where reaching the shop, they started to swarm me.

“Wey di gun deh? Wey di gun deh?” repeatedly accused one policeman as they pulled me outside into the rain, having mistaken me for one gunmen, who unfortunately had been wearing a similar yellow raincoat.

Of course I didn’t have a gun but luckily I had my Gleaner identification card and after showing it, they let me go.

The police paused inside the shop for a few more minutes as they tried to radio for ‘backup’, and I could see that the one with the radio was either afraid, or really cold, since he kept shaking. Then the gunshots started again and the police ran back onto the street, running into a yard and firing shots after their suspects.

After that I decided that any more pictures could wait until the safety of daylight. And indeed when I rose in the morning the community were talking about the incident and that a policeman and a gunmen had been shot. But residents were more preoccupied with looking forward, expectant with what the visiting Member of Parliament would bring in relief.

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