JIS News

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller is assuring Jamaicans that the State of Public Emergency that was declared Sunday night, following the passage of Hurricane Dean, is designed to protect lives and property and to ensure the safety of all persons in Jamaica and its territorial waters during the disaster.
The Prime Minister gave this assurance on Monday (August 20) while providing an update on the preliminary assessment of hurricane damage and outlining plans for recovery.
“This (State of Public Emergency) was necessary to protect life and property, and to ensure that public order is maintained especially in a situation where the entire country is without electricity,” the Prime Minister explained at a press briefing at Jamaica House following a special meeting of the Cabinet.
“As the Minister of Defense, I have a responsibility to see to the protection of this country . my primary focus is on the Jamaican people. I have to protect the people of this country in a disaster like this,” she reiterated.
Mrs. Simpson Miller noted further that the situation regarding the State of Public Emergency will be reviewed at regular intervals to determine how soon it can be discontinued. “This evening we did a review and we felt it should be kept in place based on what happened today and the fact that electricity will not be restored to all sections. Tomorrow afternoon we will review it again. I have no intention of having it there for a long period of time. As soon as normality is restored I will advise the Governor-General that it be discontinued,” she told journalists.
The Prime Minister informed that representatives from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and various other government agencies provided the Cabinet with an initial assessment of hurricane damage, which varied from parish to parish.
Mrs. Simpson Miller expressed condolences to the families of two persons who died as a result of the Hurricane. The casualties occurred in Manchester and St. Thomas.
Turning to the recovery effort, the Prime Minister indicated that priority attention was being given to the re-opening of schools, public health and the restoration of public utilities – electricity and water. She emphasized that while power would be restored on a phased basis starting Monday night, the return of electricity would only be done after thorough safety checks are done on power lines across the country.

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