The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is currently conducting assessments to determine the level of assistance to be provided to persons, who have been seriously dislocated by Hurricane Sandy, which affected the island on October 24.
Acting Director of Social Security in the Ministry, Denzil Thorpe, told JIS News that two categories of assessments are being undertaken. The first, he explained, targets persons who are still occupying hurricane shelters, while the second is on householders in the worst affected parishes, whose homes have sustained damage. The parishes include: Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Thomas, Portland, St. Mary, St. Catherine, and St. Ann.
“After the estimates of damage have come into us, then we will be able to put something forward to the Cabinet and the Ministry of Finance, as it relates to what assistance can be provided for those persons who have suffered housing damage,” he informed.
On hurricane shelters, Mr. Thorpe said reports received up to Friday (October 26) indicate that just under 20 of these facilities are still open, accommodating some 300 occupants . This is a significant reduction from the over 140 shelters, which were in operation with just under 2,000 occupants, in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane.
Assessment of these persons, Mr. Thorpe explained, is to determine the level of assistance necessary to facilitate their returning home, and ensuring the de-activation of the shelters.
“A lot of the shelters would be schools, and we want to get them (schools) cleaned up…and prepared for classes as soon as possible,” he said.
For persons whose homes have been affected, Mr. Thorpe said the Ministry has mobilised a team of approximately 120 stakeholders, comprising Ministry officers as well as volunteers from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and other groups, such as the Red Cross and Adventist Disaster Relief Association (ADRA), to assess their status.
“The plan is to assess the damage…as well as to determine the extent of the intervention and the need for relief assistance, whether it be in the form of tarpaulins, food items or other items, such as bedding. We will be providing that sort of relief immediately, on ascertaining where that need exists,” he outlined.
Mr. Thorpe pointed out that the assessments will also incorporate all beneficiaries under the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) and the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
While noting that other parishes, such as those in the western end of the island, were not as adversely affected, Mr. Thorpe assured that the Ministry will also be dispatching teams to conduct assessments in those areas where reports of dislocation have surfaced.
He noted that the Ministry and its agencies will be working closely with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), and all other relevant agencies to ensure that all affected persons are assisted.