STATEMENT TO PARLIAMENT ON HURRICANE IVAN BY MOST HON. P.J. PATTERSON ON, PC, QC, MP PRIME MINISTER NOVEMBER 23, 2004


This Honourable House will recall that Hurricane Ivan struck Jamaica as a Category 4 Hurricane between Friday September 10 and Sunday September 12 2004. I made a Prime Ministerial statement to this House on Tuesday, September 21st and since then several Ministers have reported to Parliament on their respective portfolios. I am of the view that the time has come for me to make a progress report on the recovery and reconstruction process.
An assessment of the damage undertaken by the PIOJ using the ECLAC Methodology indicated that 369,685 persons were directly affected by Hurricane Ivan. Total damage was estimated to be over $35.9b or 8% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Agriculture and housing sectors were the worst affected, accounting for 37% of the total indirect losses and 31% of direct losses respectively.
In the wake of the Hurricane, the Government took action to protect the Jamaican people from those who would want to use the cover of the Hurricane to carry out criminal activities, protect the health of the nation and to protect the consuming public from inflationary prices.
The Ministry Paper “Update on the national relief and recovery programme” that is tabled today is intended to provide a comprehensive progress report on the status of the Government’s response to the disaster and to bring some semblance of closure to the process.
RELIEF
To date, over 325,000 Jamaicans have benefited from assistance totaling $796.6m with relief assistance amounting to $277.6m and benefiting 70,000 people. Of this amount some $519m was disbursed to benefit 255,000 persons who are pensioners or PATH beneficiaries.
RECOVERY
Total disbursement to over 225,235 Jamaicans to assist in the recovery process amounts to $4.5b, including assistance to farmers and fisher-folk. This figure includes the amounts to relocate residents of the communities of Portland Cottage, Rocky Point, Old Harbour Bay and Brighton/Salmon Point/Little Bay which will be completed by August 2005.
Disbursements to 150,000 Jamaicans amounting to over $1.4b under the MLSS assessment programme started over two weeks ago. Starting tomorrow $300M will be paid out to 75,235 farmers and fisher-folk will begin receiving benefits through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
Additionally, approximately $1b will be disbursed to farmers and fisher-folk by way of insurance payments, loans, grants and inputs from several sources including the local private sector and donor agencies.
RECONSTRUCTION
The reconstruction phase is focusing primarily on returning our infrastructure and public buildings starting with our schools and health facilities, to pre-Ivan state. The Office of National Reconstruction (ONR) is coordinating the reconstruction phase of the recovery programme. The Office will work with local and international entities to ensure that the work is carried out efficiently and as expeditiously as possible.
Over $548.5m has been identified to repair schools and health facilities across the island. The funds will come from a number of sources including the Government of Jamaica and local and international agencies.
Over $220m has been spent to clear roads, including Parish Council roads across the island. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of National Works Agency roads are passable.
Mr. Speaker, we are not prepared to allow or support the construction of houses in places which are unsafe. We intend to build back stronger and better shelter in locations that are safe.
Preliminary estimates prepared by the Office of National Reconstruction indicate that the cost of the reconstruction programme for 2004/05 will be J$3.02B. Cabinet yesterday approved the tabling of the 1st Supplementary Estimate for Tuesday, 7th December, which will reflect the proposed sources of funding.
After two months, the country has made a remarkable recovery from the ravages of Hurricane Ivan. This is a testimony of the soundness of the nation’s disaster management plan, the institutional mechanism in place to coordinate the relief efforts and to undertake the recovery activities, the effectiveness of the pre-hurricane communication strategy and the integrity of the country’s physical infrastructure before the hurricane.
The return of vital utility services so quickly after the hurricane and the quick restoration of airports and seaport services significantly facilitated the quick return to normalcy in the nation’s economic life and the curtailment of losses in production capacity.
The relocation activities in the four most affected communities are targeted to be completed in eight months. Obviously, individual families and entities will take a longer time to recover in some instances.
In an effort to review the entire preparatory and relief management process, a debriefing exercise was organized by the ODPEM on November 11, 2004. The lessons learnt from hurricane Ivan will be used to update, improve and perfect existing policies, plans and procedures so that, the nation will be better prepared for future disasters and damages minimized in any such future event.
This Government wishes to once again place on record its gratitude to the many public officers who risked their lives and worked beyond the call of duty to return the country to near normality in record time.I thank the relief agencies, the numerous volunteer and church groups our regional brothers and sisters, Jamaicans in the Diaspora and the international community that stood by our side.
I thank the Jamaican people for their patience and courage over the last two months, but most of all for their understanding and maturity and the faith they have displayed in their Government to assist and protect them.

JIS Social