Cash help for Portland flood victims
Residents of East Portland who were hard hit by the recent flood rains are each to receive a maximum payout out of $2.2 million, through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS).
The disclosure was made late last week by Social Security Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson, following a tour of the flood-ravaged communities, where he met some of the affected residents.
"The response from the MLSS team is commendable," declared Ferguson at the end of the tour.
"A day after the flood rains, they were out in large numbers conducting assessments. One hundred and fifty persons were impacted, and out of that number, 132 have been assessed, with 126 cheques already prepared.
"We are still trying to settle with the remaining six persons, whose processing for cheques have been delayed due to issues with their Tax Registration Numbers," added Ferguson.
Approximately seven hours of non-stop torrential rainfall on December 1 left dozens of houses flooded, with damaged furniture and appliances in East Portland. Three houses were destroyed.
The flood rains came after nearly nine months of drought, which severely disrupted farming practices and scorched a number of farm produce, leaving the already fragile agriculture sector in the parish in limbo.
In the meantime, head of the Portland Parish Disaster Committee, Mayor of Port Antonio Wayne McKenzie, said that the response from the various disaster teams, including the fire department, Portland Red Cross, the parish council, and the police, was quick, with help for several motorists left stranded by the flood waters.
"It is obvious that gabion baskets will have to be erected along river banks to eliminate or minimise future flooding," said McKenzie.
"Our member of parliament, Dr Lynvale Bloomfield, will be working closely with all four councillors to see how best to undertake remedial work, and how best we can help to reshape the lives of those affected," added McKenzie.