Gov’t Asseses Full Impact of Heavy Rains, Provides $175 Million to Municipal Corporations

Photo: Rudranath Fraser Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie (left), consults with Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, before the start of a press briefing held to update the nation on the impact of the heavy rainfall, at Jamaica House, today  (May 16). At centre is Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang.

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says the Government is assessing the full impact of the heavy rains that are currently affecting the island.
  • Since Saturday afternoon (May 13), the island has been experiencing persistent heavy rainfall, which has severely impacted the parishes of St. Elizabeth, St. Thomas, Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, Westmorland, St. Mary, Portland and St. Ann.
  • Clarendon, by all indication, has been the hardest hit, with the NWA reporting extensive flooding in the south of the parish in communities like Banks, Sedge Pond, Water Lane, Foga Road, McGilchrist Pen and Four Paths. The Alley Bridge is now impassable.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says the Government is assessing the full impact of the heavy rains that are currently affecting the island.

“The assessments continue right across the country. We made available to the Municipal Corporations yesterday (May 15) $175 million, and that was to be spent in the parishes of Clarendon, Manchester, Portland, St. Elizabeth, St. Thomas and Westmoreland,” the Minister said.

He was speaking at a press briefing at Jamaica House, today (May 16), to update the nation on action being taken by the Government to deal with the impact of the heavy rains lashing the island.

Mr. McKenzie informed that the Ministry is making arrangements to ensure that funding is provided to the St. Ann Municipal Corporation, because sections of the parish have been severely affected by flooding.

Since Saturday afternoon (May 13), the island has been experiencing persistent heavy rainfall, which has severely impacted the parishes of St. Elizabeth, St. Thomas, Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, Westmoreland, St. Mary, Portland and St. Ann.
This has caused severe infrastructural and agricultural damage, dislocation, and is a major inconvenience, especially for students who are sitting exit secondary exams.

Mr. McKenzie informed that the Jamaica Fire Brigade has worked closely with the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) in rescuing more than 30 persons.

He added that the Government is working closely with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to ensure “that we provide the necessary relief assistance to persons who have been affected by the inclement weather”.

The Minister pointed out that 11 shelters were activated in the parishes of Clarendon and St. Catherine, with one individual currently occupying a shelter.

In addition, the office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has activated the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) to level two as at 12 noon today.

All parish Emergency Operation Centres (EOCs) were activated and all parish representatives have been mobilised to attend their respective EOCs.

For his part, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, said he is thankful that there have been no reports of loss of life so far.

He urged all Jamaicans to exercise the utmost caution “whether you are in your homes or on our roads, particularly in flood-prone areas, as we brace for at least two more days of inclement weather”.

Dr. Chang, who is in charge of the Government while Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness is in the Dominican Republic on official business, said that although the situation is fluid, it is evident that the impact of this current rainfall is quite severe.

He said the Government will, on Friday (May 19), seek to do a comprehensive assessment of the impact of the rainfall on the island.

“We are currently on the road assessing what is happening, and the National Works Agency (NWA) will take steps to ensure that there is complete access to the various communities,” Dr. Chang added.

He noted that Clarendon, by all indications, has been the hardest hit, with the NWA reporting extensive flooding in the south of the parish in communities like Banks, Sedge Pond, Water Lane, Foga Road, McGilchrist Pen and Four Paths. The Alley Bridge is now impassable.

The Rio Minho, which is in spate, has overflowed its banks in several sections of North Clarendon, causing severe damage in many communities, with farmers losing crops and many having to evacuate their homes.

Dr. Chang also informed that, in St. Andrew, there were two massive landslides at Flamstead (Guava Ridge) and Milepost 16 at Newcastle.

Over in the eastern parish of St. Thomas, all major roadways were flooded from Eleven Miles in the west to Hector’s River in the east.

Meanwhile, Head of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica, Evan Thompson, said the peak of the rainfall has passed.

“Most of the activity has started to move off the island; however, we are still in the general area of that trough and it is interacting at the same time with a frontal system which is to the north. We do expect that for the next 24 hours we will see a decrease in the rainfall, and as we move towards Thursday, we should see even less in terms of the rainfall,” Mr. Thompson said.

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