NATIONAL BROADCAST BY THE MOST HON. PORTIA SIMPSON MILLER – AUGUST 29


My fellow Jamaicans. I wish again to offer my condolences to those of you who lost loved ones as a result of hurricane Dean. I express our deepest sympathies to the families of JPSCo workers who died, while trying to restore electricity. We grieve with you.
Let us remember how God has spared us from the full strength of this dangerous hurricane.
As your Prime Minister, I have been privileged to lead and work with an amazing group of people and organizations of good will.
When I spoke to you last Wednesday, I announced a number of measures to provide basic relief to individuals and families affected by Hurricane Dean.
Let me give you an update.
On Monday, beneficiaries of the PATH programme began receiving the special one-off allowance of two thousand dollars per household.
Already 19-thousand cheques have been dispatched to post offices for families in Kingston, St. Andrew, Portland and St Thomas.
By Friday, cheques for families in St Mary and St Ann will be dispatched and those for remaining parishes will be done next week.
Payments of the special allowance of 5-thousand dollars to our 80-thousand NIS pensioners, elderly and senior citizens including those with disabilities, have also started.
22-thousand cheques valued at 110-million dollars for Kingston, St. Andrew and St. Thomas have been dispatched.
11-thousand for Portland, St Mary and St. Ann will be in Post offices by weekend and by next week those for remaining parishes will be sent out.Special thanks to the staff of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security who worked during the week end, to prepare cheques for our pensioners and PATH beneficiaries.
Preliminary losses to domestic crops and livestock are estimated at over one billion dollars. We are helping our valued farmers get back on their feet. The first batch of 7-hundred tonnes of fertilizer, under the special one hundred million dollar fertilizer assistance programme was handed over to the JAS and RADA yesterday. The fertilizer will be distributed to farmers soon.
10-million dollars is now available for disbursement to our fisher folk in the Old Harbour Bay area who were badly affected by DEAN.
Fellow Jamaicans, last week, I announced the appointment of the Honourable Kingsley Thomas, a well respected former public servant to co-ordinate the recovery and rehabilitation efforts
Some critical tasks have already been completed.Over 15 thousand food packages, tarpaulins and water containers have been distributed to the needy through ODPEM, Food for the Poor, the Churches and other faith- based organizations.
We have also sourced adequate supplies to meet the needs of those affected.
Yesterday, a special air cargo charter brought to Jamaica tarpaulins and lanterns.
This is in addition to 10-thousand tarpaulins, 5-thousand cots, 5-thousand blankets, 5-thousand battery-powered lanterns and other critical relief items we have procured.
Some of these items were distributed to the worst affected areas by ODPEM today.
Areas of Southern Clarendon and St. Catherine suffered most severely from Hurricane Dean.
I can report that the situation in Portland Cottage, for example, has improved. The following has been put in place:. A sixteen thousand gallon water tank to provide a steady supply of water to residents;. Two twenty-foot containerized bathrooms with toilets, showers and wash basins . Two temporary generator-powered lighting towers
. Food, drinking water and medical care have also been provided to the residents by ODPEM, the Ministry of Health and NGOs such as Food for the Poor.
. Work has begun to repair and re-build Food for the Poor houses and those in Government schemes damaged or destroyed by the hurricane in Portland Cottage.
This is being undertaken by Food for the Poor.Similar activities have been accelerated in the following communities:Rocky Point, Mitchell Town, Lionel Town, Old Harbour Bay, and, a number of seriously affected communities in St. Thomas, Portland and St. Elizabeth.
I have been assured by the National Water Commission that the NWC is back to 92% of its production capacity. Water is being trucked to other areas to ensure that all Jamaicans have access to water as soon as possible.
Service has been restored to 85% of the customers of the Jamaica Public Service Company.
In areas where serious damage to the transmission lines occurred, the restoration will require more time. The NWA is reporting that most of the main and Parish Council roads have been cleared.
I understand your pain. I understand your suffering, and I understand the disruption in your lives caused by Hurricane Dean.
The team is working hard to ensure that help reaches you as soon as is humanly possible.I must pay special tribute to my resilient brothers and sisters who are overcoming the ravages of Hurricane Dean and who have weathered bravely the many others before it.
I wish to publicly thank those well thinking members of the Jamaican family who have come to the assistance of their neighbours and communities.
You offered shelter to the homeless and roofless, provided food to those without, and provided comfort to those emotionally affected by the hurricane.
I must also commend my fellow Jamaicans for your resourcefulness and initiative in the clean-up effort beginning in your homes and extending to your communities.Special thanks to the Fire Brigade, both arms of the security forces, the Police and the Jamaica Defence Force.
My sincere gratitude to government and non-government organizations which provided relief to thousands. . ODPEM. NATIONAL WORKS AGENCY. NATIONALWATER COMMISSION. JAMAICA PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY. FOOD FOR THE POOR. THE RED CROSS. SALVATION ARMY. THE ADVENTIST DEVELOPMENT AND RELIEF AGENCY, ADRA. THE CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES. THE URBAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION. CHASE FUND. CHURCHES. AND OTHER FAITH BASED ORGANIZATIONS
Thanks to the Private Security firms and their security guards.
I wish also to thank the private sector for their positive response in cash and kind: UC Rusal, owners of Alpart and Windalco for its donation of 1 Million US dollars, the ALCOA Women’s Network, the Bank of Nova Scotia for its donation of 17.5 million dollars to help primary schools.
Thanks also to NCB, COURTS, NETLINK, WATA, JAMBISCO and SPACIAL INNOVISION for their contributions.
Members of the Jamaican Diaspora – in Canada, the United States, United Kingdom and all over the world have shown great generosity and support during our time of need.Contributions in cash and kind have also come from a number of countries and international organisations.. The United States Agency for International Development, USAID
. The United Nations Development Programme, UNDP
. The Caribbean Development Bank, CDB . and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency, CDERA
Special thanks to the Governments of: Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, the Cayman Island, the United States, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Japan, Spain and Venezuela.
We were far better prepared this time around than for any other hurricane.
However, we are not prepared enough with respect to the establishment and operation of shelters.
I have instructed the Honourable Kingsley Thomas and the ODPEM to refine the National Shelter Establishment and Management Plan. With this improved plan we will: . Identify strategically located safe buildings throughout the island to be used as shelters in the event of a national disaster. . We will develop a step by step programme for the preparation of the shelters prior to the disaster.. Develop a programme to manage shelters once they are open. This includes deploying members of the security forces to provide protection to men, women, children and the vulnerable.
. We will ensure proper arrangements for the preparation and serving of meals, and we will provide cots for sleeping in shelters. I am not happy with anyone in shelters sleeping on mattresses on floors.
I can report that adequate supplies of cots have been sourced for future shelters.
Members of the Jamaican family, when someone has to leave his or her home because of a disaster or a threat of a disaster, it is in itself emotionally and physically traumatic. The conditions in our shelters must be humane, of a certain standard and should not add to their trauma.
Every time there is a hurricane, storm or bad weather there is significant damage to houses in some communities.
After each disaster, large sums of money are spent by people and the government to repair and replace housing stock – over and over again.The country cannot afford it!
The threat to life and property makes the location of houses in vulnerable areas too great a risk to be allowed to continue.
The devastation at Caribbean Terrace, Rocky Point, Portland Cottage, Old Harbour Bay and sections of St. Thomas should not be repeated.
We cannot provide for every type of natural disaster, but we can at least do those things within our power to minimize loss of life and property.
I will be convening a meeting shortly with a number of agencies and organisations including NEPA, the Jamaica Institute of Engineers and the Jamaica Institute of Architects, the other relevant NGOs and government agencies.
We will identify no-build areas, alternative safer sites and develop a programme for relocation and zoning which will have the full force of the law.
My fellow Jamaicans, my heart goes out to every displaced brother and sister. My arms and spirit reach out to every fearful child and young person.
I have been working with many patriotic and compassionate Jamaicans and others to bring relief to you quickly.
As your Prime Minister, I will do EVERYTHING in my power to help each one of you and I will continue to lead and drive the recovery and rebuilding effort.
I have great faith in you my brothers and sisters, in the Jamaican family .and with God’s grace and love WE WILL CONTINUE TO CONQUER.
I urge all to remain positive, to maintain faith and cherish hope. As the Scripture says in Romans 8, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution? Or famine or nakedness” or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
We are not just conquerors. We are more than conquerors. Veronica Campbell proved yet again to the entire world that the Jamaican people are a world-class people, a people of excellence and enormous creativity.
Let us all, fellow Jamaicans, continue to be true to our Jamaican heritage.
May God bless you and bless Jamaica, Land we Love.
Thank you.

JIS Social