Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Disaster committee to review flood damage today
Observer Reporter
Tuesday, October 01, 2002



THE National Disaster Committee, chaired by Prime Minister P J Patterson, is scheduled to meet this morning to review the impact of Hurricane Lili on Jamaica.

The meeting, according to a press statement from the labour and social security ministry, is expected to provide a preliminary damage assessment as well as plan of action.

Among the agencies scheduled to send representatives to today's meeting are the National Works Agency, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), along with the ministries of labour and social security, transport and works, health, water and housing and local government.

The hurricane destroyed roads, damaged bridges, destroyed several hectares of crops, washed away houses and cars and flooded several areas, forcing dozens of people to evacuate their homes.

The death toll remained at three yesterday, while two people were reported missing and feared dead, a spokesperson for the ODPEM told the Observer last night.

The three are:

* David Fitzalbert, 49, a JUTA taxi operator of Harbour View, Kingston 17;

* Elsie Wilson, 58, a higgler of Trinityville, St Thomas; and

* A three-year-old boy who was washed away by the raging Georgia River in St Thomas.

The ODPEM was unable to give details on the two reported missing. But the Observer had reported that a woman was feared dead after she was swept away by raging flood waters in Trinityville, St Thomas.

Meanwhile, several areas across Jamaica were again affected by flooding yesterday as rains associated with Lili continued to drench Jamaica.

Lili, which gained strength Sunday to develop into a hurricane, was last night moving away from Jamaica and was expected to move to the north of the Cayman Islands and was approaching the Isle of Youth and the western end of Cuba by today.

The tropical storm warning posted for Jamaica was lifted yesterday afternoon, but the meteorological service said a flood warning was still in effect for the island as the slow-moving weather system continued to dump several tonnes of water on an already drenched Jamaica.

"As Lili continues to move away from Jamaica's west coast, the main threat is now continued outbreaks of moderate to heavy rainfall and strong, gusty winds over the island... Further flooding is expected in low-lying and flood-prone areas," said the Met Office.

Flooding, according to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), was reported at:

* The Mandela Highway, which was heavily inundated in the vicinity of Ferry. Only large vehicles were able to use that section of the road. Later in the afternoon the National Works Agency closed the west bound lane of the dual carriageway because of the flood waters on the Mandela Highway.

* The Black River to Middle Quarters main road in St Elizabeth.

The Bog Walk Gorge and the Yallahs Fording were also impassable last night, while a section of the Jacks Hill road, at the intersection with Sunset, was badly damaged and said to be extremely dangerous. The Montego Bay to Cambridge road in St James was also blocked and inaccessible to vehicular traffic.

Fishers and other small craft operators were advised to exercise caution until winds and sea conditions were returned to normal.

The heavy rains associated with the hurricane also disrupted several activities across the island.

Schools were locked, while several businesses either closed their doors for the day or cut the opening hours to allow staff members to get home early.

The state-run Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) said it had adjusted its routes to bypass areas that were either flooded or where roads were badly damaged.

"Service has been withdrawn from areas beyond Nine Miles in St Andrew where flooding and landslides rendered the road impassable. Service has also been curtailed on hill routes such as Golden Spring, Border and Gordon Town, where land slippages have been reported," said a statement from the JUTC.

The bus company also said buses which normally travel easterly along Marcus Garvey Drive to downtown Kingston were diverted to Spanish Town Road to avoid the flooded area adjacent to the Tinson Pen aerodrome.