Hundreds still struggling to bounce back after Sandy
Nadisha Hunter & Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writers
ALMOST A week after Hurricane Sandy lashed the island, hundreds of persons, especially those in the eastern parishes, are still struggling to recover from the Category One catastrophe.
Director general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, Ronald Jackson, said the relief exercise is in full swing in several badly affected parishes.
He said his agency and its partners have also been airlifting supplies to communities that have been marooned following the passage of the hurricane.
These communities are in the hilly interior of the four worst affected parishes: Portland, St Mary, St Thomas and St Andrew.
Jackson said 50 persons are still housed in shelter in Manchioneal, Portland, 32 of whom are children.
"We have ongoing humanitarian support taking place in that area, and we established a distribution centre at Manchioneal Primary School. We are also still in Annotto Bay treating with those needs. We started in Annotto Bay pretty much after the all clear, we have done some assessment on the ground and we are collecting those figures," he said.
Meanwhile, communications manager at the National Works Agency, Stephen Shaw, said yesterday that 14 roadways were still not accessible.
Shaw said these roadways are mostly in the parishes of St Andrew, St Thomas and Portland.
Hampered by challenges
He said while his agency was working assiduously to restore normality, its progress has been hampered by a few challenges.
"The challenges so far have been major cracks in some of the roads, and there are some roads with massive boulders and in other areas, there are a lot of trees that we have to be cutting off roads," he said.
Shaw added: "There are those very narrow roads and we have to create a single lane to have it fully reopened, and then there are those areas that we had clashes with JPSCo (Jamaica Public Service Company) because we had to allow them to do their operations, so those are some of the setbacks we've been having so far," he said.
The communications manager said while he would not give an estimated timeline, most of the roads would be cleared today.
Meanwhile, up to Sunday, several business places and residences in sections of Ocho Rios and several surrounding communities were without electricity.
In the hotel sector, players are looking at the broader picture as they try to keep the industry moving.
"Our secretariat is being hampered by the lack of electricity, but from the feedback we've had, I hear that there was minimal damage to the resort area," said Vana Taylor, Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association regional chairman, Runaway Bay/Ocho Rios area.
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) in the meantime has stepped up its post-hurricane promotions to keep the tourism sector afloat. John Lynch, JTB chairman, told The Gleaner that they have communicated to more than 5,000 travel partners since the hurricane.