KINGSTON, Jamaica, April 26, 2017 (CMC) – The Jamaica government says preliminary estimates for damages, caused by rain over the past few days, could reach at least half a billion dollars.
Local Government and Community Development Minister, Desmond McKenzie, said a preliminary report of the National Works Agency showed that there is damage to the main road network across 10 parishes, with Clarendon, St. Thomas, St. Catherine, St. Elizabeth and Portland being particularly affected. The estimate to repair the damage is J$352 million.
“The assessment of the municipal infrastructure by the Ministry’s technical team and the local authorities has, so far, revealed a damage assessment total of J$139.8 million across three parishes: Clarendon ($86.3 million); St. Elizabeth ($23.5 million) and St. Thomas ($30 million),” he said, noting that the total damage estimate, to this point, is J$491.8 million.
In a statement to the House of Representatives, yesterday, McKenzie said the social impact is of great concern, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, along with the Poor Relief Departments of the local authorities, and voluntary agencies, such as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross, are gathering the necessary information.
“The intention is to use this information to implement a comprehensive assistance program to restore dignity to our affected citizens. The details of the program will be shared with the House in due course,” he said.
He added that the Ministry will also be providing financial assistance to affected municipal corporations.
“Additionally, the rubble created by the flooding and landslides will be removed. Just as importantly, the Ministry of Health is being engaged, as we try to guard against any potential mosquito nuisance or water-borne diseases, as the floodwaters subside,” McKenzie said.
The Minister said the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management and local authorities responded, quickly, to the needs of residents, and ensured that relief materials, including mattresses, blankets, sheets, cases of drinking water and tarpaulins, were supplied.
McKenzie said that the Ministry will be reviewing the existing structures, particularly in town centres and other urban areas of the country, to see where run-off capacity can be significantly expanded, in the short- to medium-term.
“While there are other factors that can be cited as causes of flooding, there is simply no denying that insufficient drainage capacity is a fundamental reason, and the time has come to address the problems associated with rain events, in a fundamental way,” he said.
McKenzie said the Local Government Ministry will be collaborating with the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation to develop a program to expand the country’s infrastructure, so as to put an end to flooding, once any type of rain occurs.