Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Gov't to assist J'cans in hurricane-ravaged islands to return home

Published:Thursday | September 14, 2017 | 9:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Desmond McKenzie

Jamaicans in the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands and St Martin who have been severely impacted by the effects of Hurricane Irma and want to return home will be getting assistance from the Andrew Holness administration.

Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie told his parliamentary colleagues yesterday in Gordon House that the Government would be making arrangements to assist Jamaicans who are desirous of returning home.

"Based on what has taken place so far it is difficult to find almost everybody," McKenzie said, noting that a proper assessment would have to be done before the assistance can be offered.

In a statement to the Lower House, McKenzie said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade had been working with office of the High Commission in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and the Honorary Consul in Turks and Caicos, as well as community leaders in the affected countries, to ascertain the size of the Jamaican community, those impacted and their immediate needs.

At the same time, Jamaica is moving to provide assistance to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency by activating the Sub-regional Coordination Centre to support, with rapid damage assessments; procure relief items for islands impacted by Irma, and organise transportation and relief efforts to affected states.

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has deployed specialist teams to deal with rapid needs assessment for the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas. The teams comprise members of the Jamaica Defence Force, National Environment and Planning Agency, National Works Agency, and ODPEM.

With the launch of the Jamaica Irma Relief Fund, McKenzie yesterday called on Jamaicans to make donations in support of persons impacted across the region.

McKenzie made the first donation of $50,000. Donations can be made at the National Commercial Bank - ACCOUNT 212387304.