JIS News

Some 350 officers from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security along with members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) have commenced assessment of damage sustained by Jamaicans following the passage of Hurricane Dean.
In an interview with JIS News, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Alvin McIntosh, informed that the team will be working full time in order to have the assessment completed within 10 days.
“The investigations commenced on (Aug. 21) and we hope to complete it within 10 days. It may go beyond that but we are working feverishly to have it completed within that time frame,” he stated.
According to the Permanent Secretary, the team will be visiting various communities islandwide and conducting household checks to assess the extent of damage to houses, household effects as well as crops and livestock.
“The worst affected parishes are St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. Elizabeth, Kingston and St. Andrew and Manchester. We will be focusing on these parishes but the damage is islandwide, and officers will be working in all parishes but with major emphasis on the worst affected ones,” Mr. McIntosh explained. He further noted that his Ministry will be working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands in order to assess the extent of damage to crops and livestock and so avoid duplication and expedite the process.
“Rather than having two sets of officers visiting the same victim, we will share our information so that as soon as we identify persons who have suffered agricultural damage, we will communicate this information to the Ministry of Agriculture so that they can take the necessary action,” Mr. McIntosh noted.
Commenting on the type of assistance that will be given to victims, he noted that, “we will be categorizing the level of damage that each household suffered and based on the extent of the damage, some assistance will be given. Usually, the assistance is given in the form of a cheque, which the victim would use to purchase the necessary materials to effect the repairs to their homes.”
Persons may contact the Ministry office in their respective parishes but to ensure that all persons are reached, Mr. McIntosh said, “they don’t even have to visit our parish offices. They could call and say where they live and the damage that they have suffered. This would help us as we will know exactly where to go.”
According to Mr. McIntosh, persons seeking assistance will be required to complete application forms. “We are trying to make the process as objective as possible so that one victim cannot complain that they were asked a different set of questions from another victim. The forms are very specific so very little allowance is there for subjectivity or misrepresentation,” he pointed out.
“We are asking persons to cooperate with the officers that will be visiting their communities so that we will be able to have the investigation completed as quickly as possible,” he continued.
These officers, he said, are not in a position to say to anybody how much they will be getting. “It is after the assessment is completed and we have analyzed the extent of the damage that we will be able to allocate different amounts based on the damage sustained,” he added.
Since the hurricane, the Ministry has been focusing on providing assistance to persons in shelters. “We have been providing individuals in shelters with food, bedding and other relief supplies. We have also been assisting persons, who have remained in their homes but have also suffered, by providing food packages and providing temporary coverings for their homes,” he told JIS News.
In the meantime, Mr. McIntosh said that while the Ministry is the major agency responsible for the provision of food and other relief supplies, there will always be gaps and the assistance of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been much appreciated.
“A number of NGOs such as the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Food for the Poor and Adventist Development Relief Agency have come forward and have made their resources available and have been very effective in filling the gap that might have existed,” he said.

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