Jamaica: Significant evacuation planned for flood prone areas

Prime Minister P. J. Patterson has instructed the Ministries of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, Land and Environment and Transport and Works to immediately draw up a detailed plan for the evacuation of residents living in communities that are likely to be devastated by Hurricane Emily. The evacuation may start by the latest tomorrow morning if the Hurricane continues along its present path.

The Prime Minister gave the instructions at an emergency meeting of the National Disaster Committee at Jamaica House this afternoon, (Thursday, July 14, 2005).

Mr. Patterson said that flood prone areas should be prepared for significant evacuation. He said that public transportation would be utilized to move persons and that larger facilities would be used as temporary location for accommodation. The country will be advised of the places and transportation arrangements as soon as the Ministries complete the plan.

The Prime Minister has also given instructions for One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000) to be made available to each Constituency through the Social Development Commission (SDC) to assist with hurricane preparation.

The Prime Minister endorsed the plan to immediately activate the Parish Disaster Committees (PDCs), summon shelter managers and to preposition resources in regions and parishes to enable an immediate response in the event that Hurricane Emily hits Jamaica. He said that tarpaulins, mattresses, lanterns, blankets and items of food should be sent out immediately to the various parishes and Constituency locations.

Mr. Patterson said that Emily is likely to deposit significant rainfall and heavy showers virtually all over Jamaica. He said that the ground was already saturated from Hurricane Dennis and that persons should take every possible precaution and be prepared to move when those instructions are given.

The Rapid Response Unit will load trucks with fuel and water and have them pre-positioned in regions. Trailers loaded with water will be at hospitals in the event that roads are blocked.

Minister of Local Government Community Development and Sport, Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, said that between Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000.00) and Three Hundred Thousand Dollars ($300,000.00) would be made available for preparation for shelters.

Mrs. Sylvia McGill, head of the Meteorological Division told the meeting that Jamaica will be placed on Hurricane Warning at 5:00 am tomorrow (Friday, July 15,2005) if the Hurricane does not change path.

In attendance at the meeting were the Ministers Dean Peart, Robert Pickersgill, Portia Simpson Miller and Donald Buchanan. The technical agencies that are involved in disaster preparation and response such as ODPEM, National Solid Waste Management Authority, National Works Agency, Rapid Response Unit, National Water Commission, Water Resources Authority, Meteorological Division and the Jamaica Constabulary Force were also represented at the meeting.