JIS News

Story Highlights

  • With Jamaica now possibly less than 36 hours away from the impact of Hurricane Matthew, the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) has completed its internal preparation for the impending storm and has already pre-deployed troops across the island as part of the national disaster response mechanism.
  • According to Major Basil Jarrett, Civil Military Cooperation and Media Affairs Officer for the JDF, the Force is now fully engaged in a number of critical activities aimed at reducing the possible impact of Hurricane Matthew’s passage.
  • The JDF has not forgotten its Internal Security obligations and so infantry Units will continue to assist the police in the maintenance of law and order with an extra focus being placed on securing identified town centers and critical areas.

With Jamaica now possibly less than 36 hours away from the impact of Hurricane Matthew, the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) has completed its internal preparation for the impending storm and has already pre-deployed troops across the island as part of the national disaster response mechanism.

According to Major Basil Jarrett, Civil Military Cooperation and Media Affairs Officer for the JDF, the Force is now fully engaged in a number of critical activities aimed at reducing the possible impact of Hurricane Matthew’s passage. “While the main responsibility for coordinating the island’s national disaster response mechanism lies with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), the JDF plays a critical supportive role as a first responder in any national emergency and as such, we have already initiated a number of pre-emptive and concurrent activities to help strengthen our ability to manage the fallout, should Hurricane Matthew impact the island severely”.

Major Jarrett pointed out that the JDF has already begun to collect, distribute, store and pre-position relief supplies across the island, under the direction of and in coordination with the ODPEM. In addition, he says that the Force is working closely with parish disaster relief coordinators in order to help prepare a number of hurricane relief centers which will be critical in providing shelter to displaced persons should the need arise.

During a national disaster such as the one currently threatening the island, the JDF has a number of important roles and responsibilities, which are executed by its various Units. These include tasks specifically related to disaster response and relief, search and rescue, internal security and assistance to government agencies and departments. As examples of this Force wide effort, Major Jarrett pointed out that the JDF Engineer Regiment has pre-deployed engineering specialist teams and logistics units to carry out relief operations if required. Already, JDF engineers have been pressed into action, assisting with the clearance of sections of the blocked Palisadoes highway early Saturday morning. The JDF Airwing and the JDF Coast Guard are also on standby to conduct search and rescue missions where necessary. The JDF Coast Guard in particular has been heavily involved in assisting with the evacuation of fisher folk from the Pedro Cays since last week.

“A number of fishermen are notoriously difficult to persuade to evacuate the Cays”, said Jarrett, “and so we left quantities of fuel with those persons who have been hesitant to take advantage of the early evacuation opportunities”. Nonetheless, he noted, the JDF Coast Guard is also on standby to return to the Cays immediately after the hurricane passes.

In all of this, the JDF has not forgotten its Internal Security obligations and so infantry Units will continue to assist the police in the maintenance of law and order with an extra focus being placed on securing identified town centers and critical areas.