Jamaica spared the worst effects of Hurricane Emily

KINGSTON (JIS) - Monday, July 18, 2005

The entire Jamaica is now breathing a sigh of relief having again being spared the wrath of another major hurricane.

Hurricane Emily, a dangerous category four system, was heading for the island last week before veering south, sparing the country a direct hit.

But even though the island escaped the worst effects of the hurricane, torrential showers and thunderstorms occurred in the central and western end of the island and sections of eastern parishes, producing flash floods and landslides. In addition, storm force winds were reported over southern coastal areas.

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) reported major flooding of roadways in Trelawny, with the Daniel Town to Clark's Town; Long Pond; Rock to Falmouth; Wakefield at Logwoods Valley; and Barnstable to Jackson Town Roads inundated. The Martha Brae River overflowed its banks, flooding the Martha Brae to Duanvale roadway.

In St. Catherine, flooding has been reported in Braeton, Guy's Hill Main Road and Sunnyside, Linstead; while in St. James, the Rose Hall Main Road and sections of Barnett Street are impassable.

In Manchester, a gully has overflowed its banks, which has resulted in the flooding of several households in New Forest. In addition, the Parotee to Brompton Main Road in St. Elizabeth is flooded and impassable, and the Myersville to Santa Cruz Main Road is also flooded.

Meanwhile, up to late yesterday, approximately 3,200 Jamaicans were reported to have sought shelter at 86 facilities across the island, as the torrential rains associated with Emily drove them from their homes.

Land and Environment Minister, Dean Peart addressing a press briefing immediately following a meeting of the National Emergency Response team yesterday (July 17) at the South Camp Road headquarters of the ODPEM, said that most of the persons in shelters had moved in from flood-prone areas. "We think that as soon as the water recedes, the majority of them will go back home", he said.

The Emergency Response Team reported that food had to be distributed to communities in St. Thomas. Two persons are now in hospital nursing stab wounds resulting from a fight in one of the shelters in that parish.

Additionally, all hospitals remained open, though only emergency cases were accepted during the hurricane. There were no reports of looting and the curfew, which was put in place to protect homes and business places, was lifted this morning. The Minister congratulated the police force, which he said, did "a good job".

There were no reports of damage to utilities such as light and water. "The report that we got is that we have no major disruption in the National Water Commission supply", Minister Peart said, adding that any shut downs would be corrected today.

He noted further, that the Jamaica Public Service Company has reported no major problems with its supplies, though strong winds caused damage to a few fuses.

The Emergency Response Team comprises representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security; Jamaica Constabulary Force; Jamaica Defence Force; Ministry of Health; Salvation Army; National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA); National Works Agency; National Water Commission; National Solid Waste Management Authority; Jamaica Fire Brigade; Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Sport; Jamaica Urban Transit Company, Meteorological Service; and ODPEM.