JIS News

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is distributing food, tarpaulin and medical supplies to communities in Western St. Thomas that have been cut off due to landslides from the torrential rains associated with Hurricane Dennis.
Parish Disaster Coordinator, Millicent Blake told JIS News that food, mattresses and blankets were delivered to the Penlyne Castle, Seaforth and Mount Vernon communities on Friday and Sunday. She said that distribution was also done in Llandewey, which could now be accessed using heavy-duty vehicles, while supplies were airlifted to Cedar Valley and Trinityville.
Miss Blake also disclosed, that about 104 persons were staying at shelters at the Seaforth High and Primary Schools, the Cedar Valley Baptist Church, Mt. Vernon Primary and the Llandewey Community Centre. However, she noted, it was difficult to monitor the number of persons staying at shelters since they have been leaving during the day to clean their homes and return at nights. “They are cleaning out and putting back their lives together,” she added, saying that some persons have also returned to their homes.
To ensure the safety and proper distribution of supplies to affected communities, Mrs. Blake said, the ODPEM had arranged with the police, Jamaica Red Cross personnel and pastors to be responsible for the storage and allocation of relief items.
Meanwhile, the disaster coordinator said that a shelter manager training seminar scheduled for July 11 and 12 at the Village Green Restaurant in Morant Bay had been postponed. She said a new date would be announced soon.
Mrs. Blake also praised the assistance she has been receiving from agencies within the parish, in particular, the St. Thomas Fire Department, which she said had participated in a rescue and evacuation operation in Seaforth, when members of the community were threatened by flood waters from the overflow of the Johnson River.
Chief Public Health Inspector Charles Lewis told JIS News that the shelters were being assessed to ensure that the sanitation conditions were up to standard. “Our main concern has to do with water. Water supply has been restored in some areas but we are monitoring the quality and portability at this time,” he noted.
Additionally, he said, officers would be monitoring and assessing the most severely affected areas in the parish to assess the level of sanitation and to ensure the proper disposal of solid waste. “We’ll be looking at our mosquito control programme to put measures in place to deal with both larvae and the adult mosquitoes,” Mr. Lewis informed.