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The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), today (September 4), received US$300,000 in relief commodities and transportation from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (ODFA).
This assistance has come in the wake of the damage sustained across sections of the island, by the passage of Tropical Storm Gustav last weekend.
The relief items include 3,425 blankets, 1,536 family hygiene kits, 7,800 ten-litre water containers and 270 rolls of plastic sheeting for shelters. Additionally, US$100,000 will defray the cost to provide fuel to conduct further aerial damage assessments and relief distribution to the marooned areas across the island.
At the presentation ceremony, held at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Director General of ODPEM, Ronald Jackson, commended the USAID for its continued assistance.
“Today marks a continuing partnership among ODPEM, the Government of Jamaica and the USAID and the American people. We have had long relationships with USAID.and they have always been one of the first partners to come forward to assist us in our times of need,” he said.
He further noted that the organisation has also partnered with Jamaica in regard to long term sustainable programmes of reducing risks within Jamaica, adding that this “signals the fact that they see the need for us to have a programme of resilience in a country like Jamaica and it shows that they have invested in Jamaica, not just when we are responding to events, such as disasters, but for the long haul,” Mr. Jackson said.
“We are hoping that in the next few days, we can get these resources out to the very needy, as we begin the process of recovery. Whilst we move from relief operations to recovery, we have to be mindful that there are quite a few persons who are unable to access basic necessities, by virtue of the fact that the communication infrastructure is still being worked on by the National Works Agency (NWA), so those persons would be our primary focus and certainly the people in Portland and St. Thomas, who are also challenged at this time,” he said.
Charge d’Affaires of the United States (US) Embassy, James Heg, in his remarks, said that the relief supplies were donated to show solidarity with the country in its recovery effort.
“The history of the friendship between the two countries is longstanding and our hearts go out to the people who have lost loved ones in the storm as well as the 188 families who have been displaced,” he said.
Mr. Heg said that the USAID would continue to work with ODPEM, to make sure that assistance is provided to ensure that the island recovers fully.
Mission Director of the USAID, Karen Hillard, pointed out that the supplies were designed to make sure that the storm victims’ lives would be as comfortable as possible, during this immediate aftermath of the storm.
“In addition, we are going to work with Ronald Jackson and the Red Cross, to try to supply temporary shelter for the 188 persons who have lost their homes and we will be able to tell you a little bit more about that in the coming days as our plans become more concrete,” she said.
The OFDA is the unit within the USAID, that is responsible for facilitating and co-ordinating U.S. emergency assistance. It provides humanitarian assistance to save lives, alleviate human suffering and reduce the social and economic impact of humanitarian emergencies.