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    Repairs to some 1,500 houses severely damaged by Tropical Storm Gustav in August, 2008, will be completed prior to the start of the 2009 Hurricane Season.
    The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) says that the repairing and retrofitting of the houses is one of the priorities of its Tropical Storm Gustav Relief (Safer Housing Project), which is funded by both the Government of Jamaica and the Department for International Development.
    The OPM gave the assurance in the 2009/2010 Estimates of Expenditure, tabled in the House of Representatives last Tuesday.
    The objectives of the project, which ends in November, are:To repair and retrofit up to 1,500 severely damaged homes in St. Andrew, St. Mary, Portland and St. Thomas, using safer building techniques and project materials;To provide informal builders and householders with enhanced knowledge and skills to incorporate hazard resistant roofing and construction standards in self help housing;To provide communities, house owners and artisan builders with an overview of hazard effects on buildings; The recovery project will contribute to the promotion of and adoption of safe building techniques within vulnerable communities.
    The OPM is to expend $60.5 million this year on the repairing and strengthening of the homes, most of which will be completed before the 2009 hurricane season begins, as well as adopt safer building practices.
    An important feature of the programme is that it has to raise awareness and build demand for safer hazard building processes throughout Jamaica, especially within the vulnerable communities and increase resilience to future natural hazards, and then disseminate information and awareness materials throughout the region through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency(CDERA).
    The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) will be the monitoring agency.
    Tropical Storm Gustav was reponsible for about 12 deaths and billions of Jamaican dollars in damage to homes and roads across the eastern half of the island last August.

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