Reports from the Jamaican Embassy in Havana, Cuba, and the Consulate General in Miami, Florida, indicate that, thus far, there are no casualties within the Jamaican community from the passage of Hurricane Ian.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, gave the update during the sitting of the Upper House on Friday (September 30).
“We really give thanks, especially as one of our students is located in the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba, which was hardest hit, but she is well and is in good spirits.
“We are, however, remaining vigilant in light of the accounts we have received regarding damage to property and infrastructure, which impacts water and electricity,” she said.
Senator Johnson Smith noted that in Florida, the Consulate has been in contact with several Jamaicans across the State, with assistance from community groups and leaders, including members of the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council.
“They have explained that the majority of Jamaicans are generally located in the counties that are not in the areas worst hit. So again, we are appreciative while being sensitive to the challenges experienced by the wider citizenry impacted. We have and will continue to reach out to all Jamaicans, including students, farm workers, seasonal hotel workers and the elderly,” Senator Johnson Smith told the Upper House.
“We continue to closely monitor the well-being of Jamaican nationals across the Eastern Seaboard and encourage them to continue to stay tuned to official news channels and emergency operations and guidance on evacuation, shelters and access to rescue and response,” she added.
Senator Johnson Smith said that the Government of Jamaica stands in solidarity with the people and Governments of Cuba and the United States.
Preliminary reports indicate two casualties in Cuba and 21 in Florida from the passage of the hurricane earlier this week.
Senator Johnson Smith extended condolences at the loss of lives in both countries and expressed the hope of a speedy recovery.
She said discussions are under way with representatives from Cuba on ways in which the Government may assist in the recovery process.
“As these become [clearer] we will, as we have always before, look at how best we are able to assist or brothers and sisters there,” she said.
She indicated that only recently, the HMJS Nanny of the Maroons took $20 million worth of medical supplies and support from Jamaica to the port of Santiago for donation to the people of Cuba.
Senator Johnson Smith said the Government of Jamaica continues to pray for the safety of everyone in the path of Ian and those who have been impacted by the storm.
In his message of support, Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Senator Peter Bunting joined the Government in extending sympathies and condolences in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
“We urge and support the Government in extending that hand of friendship in providing whatever assistance we can,” he said.