BY THE PRIME MINISTER ON THE FLOODING IN SECTIONS OF THE COUNTRY WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2001
Since Sunday, much of the island has been suffering severe dislocation as a result of a broad area of disturbed weather, causing heavy rainfall and flooding.
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management has reported that the Parishes of Portland, St. Mary and St. Ann have been the worst affected. Sections of St. Andrew, Trelawny and St. Catherine have also been adversely affected.
The National Disaster Response Mechanism has been activated to deal with the current situation and the various Parish Emergency Response Centres have been opened.
Some 200 individuals and families who have been displaced from their homes are now being housed in temporary shelters.
Even as I speak, ODPEM is in the process of distributing food packages and other relief supplies with the assistance of the Jamaica Defence Force.
The assistance of the JDF is particularly vital in areas such as the Buff Bay and Rio Grande Valleys, where road links to some communities have been cut off by landslides.
The Ministries of Health, Labour and Social Security, Transport and Works and Water and Housing have been carrying out preliminary assessments of the impact of the flooding on people’s health and welfare, on housing and on physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges.
Already the National Works Agency has been involved in starting clearance of blocked roads and ensuring the return of some level of normality to life in the affected areas. All major roads and several secondary roads, which were previously rendered impassable, have now been, or will shortly be re-opened.
Two casualties have now been reported, and to their families, I extend full sympathy.
The Rapid Response Unit of the Ministry of Water and Housing has been mobilized to provide potable water to affected areas due to concerns for possible contamination of water sources.
Once the rains abate, full assessments will have to be carried out to determine the extent of damage to areas such as the agriculture sector, tourism and industry and commerce.
A comprehensive report is expected for the consideration of Cabinet next Monday.
In the meantime I wish to assure the nation and particularly those affected, that the Government, through the responsible Agencies and Ministries will continue to monitor the situation and provide all necessary assistance and relief.
In light of the present weather forecasts, I ask the nation to pay careful attention to the news releases and advisories from the Meteorological Services as well as the action being taken by the Office of Disaster Management.
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