Last week, the people of Jamaica faced the greatest natural threat to their lives and livelihood for many years, in the form of Hurricane Matthew.
It is with the deepest sense of relief and gratitude that I say personally, and on behalf of the Government of Jamaica, we are thankful that this Hurricane veered away from its projected path, away from our island home.
The Government took all necessary measures to prepare the country for what was expected to be the onslaught of Matthew as it moved in a north-easterly direction past Jamaica.
The closest distance between Matthew and Jamaica was just 215 kilometres (134 miles) east of Morant Point, as it moved past the island as a powerful Category 4 Hurricane. Let me put that in context Mr. Speaker. The driving distance between Somerset Village at Negril Point in the west, and Morant point in the east, is 307 kilometres or 191 miles.
The flying distance between the points is even closer: 232 kilometres or just 144 miles. It is difficult to imagine a closer brush with disaster, or such a dramatic escape from it.