All Jamaicans who Requested Evacuation Help are Home

Photo: Rudranath Fraser Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (right), emphasises a point while providing an update of the Government’s relief assistance support to Eastern Caribbean islands affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, during Tuesday’s (September 26) sitting of the House of Representatives at Gordon House. Listening keenly are Finance and the Public Service Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw (left, front row), and (back row, from left) Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson; and Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Shahine Robinson.

Story Highlights

  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says all Jamaicans who requested evacuation assistance from hurricane-ravaged Eastern Caribbean islands have returned home.
  • Mr. Holness said several persons opted to remain in those countries to assist with recovery and rebuilding efforts, citing the gesture as “commendable” and reflective of the “Jamaican spirit”.
  • Additionally, he said consequent on discussions with Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, the Government will explore the possibility of completing a bridge, construction of which the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) commenced following extensive flood rains previously impacting that island.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says all Jamaicans who requested evacuation assistance from hurricane-ravaged Eastern Caribbean islands have returned home.

He told the House of Representatives on September 26 that 200 Jamaicans were airlifted home from the affected territories where they were based, including the Turks and Caicos, and the British Virgin Islands, at a cost of $50 million.

Mr. Holness said several persons opted to remain in those countries to assist with recovery and rebuilding efforts, citing the gesture as “commendable” and reflective of the “Jamaican spirit”.

He informed that they have, however, sent their children back to Jamaica to continue their education, consequent on the resulting disruption in the education system.

Meanwhile, Mr. Holness said the Government is exploring what additional assistance can be extended to affected Eastern Caribbean islands, particularly Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica, for which Jamaica has already committed financial resources and personnel to assist with recovery and rebuilding efforts.

The Prime Minister, who was responding to a query from Central St. Mary Member of Parliament, Dr. Morais Guy, cited the provision of accommodation and educational support services for students whose schools have a similar curriculum to Jamaica’s, particularly those preparing for the 2017/18 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).

Additionally, he said consequent on discussions with Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, the Government will explore the possibility of completing a bridge, construction of which the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) commenced following extensive flood rains previously impacting that island.

“My understanding is that we went, did some assessments and started (work), but did not complete it,” he indicated.

Mr. Holness said the Government will determine whether the JDF’s 120-man Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), being deployed to Dominica in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria following Prime Minister Skerrit’s request for support, can assist with that and other infrastructure repairs after assessments of damage and dislocation sustained are completed.

The DART’s deployment is among the assistance which Mr. Holness advised the House that the Government has committed to Dominica’s recovery efforts.

He indicated that the deployment is being done in three phases, with the first team having been dispatched on September 26. The remaining two teams are scheduled to land in Dominica on September 27.

The team will be assisting with security and distribution of relief supplies; the provision of limited medical care; conducting damage assessments; recovery planning; basic engineering work; and logistics management.

Additionally, Mr. Holness said the Government has committed to providing Dominica with a four-man technical and advisory support team to be led by the JDF’s Colonel, Jamie Ogilvie.

This intervention, he said, is intended to assist with efforts to restore the integrity of Dominica’s national security systems and develop a plan for the recovery and rebuilding of that nation.

The Government has also committed the equivalent of US$100,000 each to the redevelopment funds for Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica.

Meanwhile, Mr. Holness said members of the JDF were also deployed as part of the CARICOM Disaster Response Unit to provide immediate relief in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

He advised that they remain in that territory “working tirelessly” on behalf of Jamaica and CARICOM.

Mr. Holness said the latest information he has received puts the death toll at 160, and the overall value of damage sustained in the Caribbean and United States at some US$100 billion.

“We again extend our sympathies to all countries that were impacted by what has been described as the ‘ferocity and brutality’ of these recent hurricanes, which left a trail of destruction never before seen in the Caribbean. I have great confidence that, as a region, we will rebuild and not just replicate what was there before,” he said.

The Prime Minister pointed out that this approach will be one of systematic renewal, with planned, structured development; with stronger homes and supporting amenities; and infrastructure that is strong, resilient and sustainable.

“We pray for our brothers and sisters and remind them that out of adversity will come opportunity,” Mr. Holness said.

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