St. Mary Hurricane Victims Get New Homes

Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson Minister with Responsibility for Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy (right), presents Lileth Page of Crooked River, St. Mary, with the letter of possession for her new home, during a handing over ceremony at the Annotto Bay High School in the parish on August 23. Ms. Page is one of 22 persons who lost their homes during hurricane Sandy’s passage in 2012, and have benefitted from a joint initiative undertaken in the community by the government and Food for the Poor, to replace the units.

Story Highlights

  • Twenty-two families in St. Mary receive homes
  • The occupants have also been provided with the first full tank of water
  • The allocation of the houses is in addition to grants awarded to the beneficiaries to repairs

Twenty-two families in St. Mary, who were displaced following the passage of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, have been provided with new homes at Crooked River in the parish by the government.

The recipients were presented with keys to the 22 new houses as well as letters of possession for the units, during a ceremony at the Annotto Bay High School in St. Mary on August 23.

They were relocated from the worst affected areas along St. Mary’s coastline, including Annotto Bay, Port Maria and their environs, where some 60 families lost their homes.

The 300 square feet, two bedroom houses, were provided through a partnership initiative involving Food for the Poor (FFP), which targeted persons in the parish deemed worst affected by the hurricane.

Minister with Responsibility for Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, who spoke at the ceremony, said the units have been presented as “grants” to the beneficiaries.

The dwellings, he outlined, comprise a living room, kitchen, and bathroom; a solar panel to provide power; a water tank; a sewage disposal treatment system; and a lot that allows for future expansion.

The occupants have also been provided with the first full tank of water courtesy of the Ministry’s Rapid Response Unit.

Dr. Guy explained that while the lots will be subject to lease arrangements “over a time, and after that, you will have the option to purchase (them).”

The Minister advised that allocation of the houses is in addition to grants awarded to the beneficiaries to repairs the houses they previously occupied, that sustained partially damage.

Dr. Guy said presentation of the houses represents a “major milestone” and prospects for a brighter and more prosperous future for the recipients.

“We are cognizant that lives can be transformed through initiatives such as this one; and it is for that reason, among others, that we did not hesitate to get the project off the ground,” he said.

He pointed out that through the co-ordinated efforts of the Ministries of Transport, Works and Housing, and Labour and Social Security; and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), the Government responded quickly to the plight of several residents who were seriously affected by the hurricane. He pointed out that the homes of 2,800 persons sustained major damage, while 500 were destroyed.

The Housing Minister said consequent on this, the government took the decision to alter the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) which has as one of its targets, the construction of 1800 wooden houses annually, to replace the homes of victims.

“With the temporary adjustment, as of July 31, almost 430 units have been built for Hurricane Sandy victims across the parishes of St. Mary, Portland, and St. Thomas, the parishes most ravaged by this disaster,” he said

Dr. Guy further informed that most of the houses have been built on lands owned by beneficiaries or their families.

In the case of Crooked River, St. Mary, the Minister advised that in addition to the 22 units already completed, construction of another three is currently underway, with an additional 12 slated for that location.

Further, that 12 are earmarked for Eden Park, Oracabessa, also in St. Mary. He also advised that four units have been constructed in Darlingford in Manchioneal, Portland.

Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries in Crooked River, Leroy Grossett, expressed gratitude to the government, Food for the Poor, and other participating stakeholders for their timely and quick response to the residents’ plight.

State Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Hon. Luther Buchanan, said that in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, the government established the Recovery East Jamaica Reconstruction Task Force to facilitate

co-ordination of the recovery efforts of minsitries, departments, and agencies targeting St. Mary, Portland, and St. Thomas. That body, he added, was supported by a secretariat comprising representatives of ODPEM and OPM.

The State Minister said the Sandy recovery project also targeted implementation of a national recovery plan aimed at improving Jamaica’s future recovery efforts. He pointed out that the hurricane’s passage has re-enforced the need for a more comprehensive and strategic policy for housing and land use.

“In fact, as it pertains to disaster risk reduction, and the no build zone legislation, the Most Hon. Prime Minister (Portia Simpson Miller) is serious about the implementation of same to improve the protection of our citizens and to reduce the negatives that continue to hamper sustainable development,” he informed.

Other participants in the day’s proceedings included: JEEP Programme Director, Lucille Brodber; Executive Director, FFP, Jacqueline Johnson; Acting Director General, ODPEM, Richard Thompson; and Member of Parliament for south east St. Mary, where Crooked River is located, Dr. Winston Green.

JIS Social