Jamaica moves to pick up pieces after hurricane
The Government yesterday revealed that Hurricane Sandy caused severe damage to public infrastructure and crops in several parishes, and has vowed that even with the tight economic constraints, it will find the funds to address some of the worst-hit areas.
Sandrea Falconer, minister with responsibility for information, speaking at a Jamaica House press conference yesterday, revealed that there are no preliminary estimates of the cost of the damage.
Falconer, however, said Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has asked all government agencies to conduct an assessment and provide a preliminary figure for Cabinet to discuss on Monday.
She said Simpson Miller has also indicated that the administration is prepared to look within all ministries of government in its quest to identify the funding.
In the meantime, Ronald Jackson, the director general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, said assessment teams are already out in the field.
Local Government Minister Noel Arscott, who accompanied the prime minister on a two-hour aerial tour of some of the worst affected areas yesterday, said there is extensive damage to crops in St Thomas, Portland and St Mary.
"Looking from the air, you could see the entire destruction of the banana crops. Not so much for coconuts, but cash crops and banana plantations have been hit severely," he told journalists.
West Portland Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz has urged the Government to declare Portland a disaster area.
The National Works Agency (NWA) reported that 150 main and parochial roads, including major corridors such as the Bog Walk gorge and the Junction main road, were impacted by the hurricane.
Up to late yesterday, corporate communications manager at the NWA, Stephen Shaw, said 40 per cent of those roadways, including the gorge, were still impassable.
He said 30 per cent was opened to single-lane traffic and the remainder was fully reopened.
In the meantime, the police yesterday announced the reimposition of curfews in several sections of the island to prevent looting and other criminal activities.