Close to three thousand residents devastated by the impact of Hurricane Sandy in the Manchioneal and Annotto Bay area yesterday received relief packages courtesy of telecommunications company Digicel Jamaica. Among the items distributed were canned foods, flour, cornmeal, rice, sugar, milk powder, snacks and special treats for children.
The company announced the multimillion-dollar initiative following a detailed aerial assessment of several communities on the weekend. Digicel staff members, representatives from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), and The Salvation Army were on hand distributing items to the most vulnerable.
"In times of natural disasters, I think it is important that we move quickly to help the most vulnerable in our communities, and today thousands came out and collected relief packs in the Manchioneal and Annotto Bay area. We toured sections of the most affected communities yesterday and decided that we were not going to wait to help. And so, we partnered with ODPEM and The Salvation Army to swiftly undertake this relief effort today," shared Digicel Jamaica CEO Andy Thorburn.
Continuing, Thorburn noted, "The need is great out here. With no electricity in most areas in Portland and St Mary, some persons haven't gone back out to work as yet and so, these rural communities are really in need. That is why Digicel decided to undertake this relief effort by not only providing charging stations in various areas but also basic food items to assist with day to day living."
Expressing gratitude for Digicel's efforts, Major Stanley Griffin, divisional commander, eastern Jamaica, Salvation Army, said, "It is great to see a private company (Digicel) work along with us to alleviate the suffering here. We are happy to have Digicel working with us."
Members of the communities were pleased to see Digicel staff volunteers and Salvation Army and ODPEM representatives distributing the well-needed items. Ewin Kirkland, a 56 year-old farmer whose house and farm were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy, said, "I couldn't be more appreciative. Digicel is the only person (company) I see giving us something like this."
Digicel is committed to assisting Jamaica in its recovery and is proactively engaged with ODPEM and the National Emergency Council to support their efforts to assist communities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Digicel wishes for all Jamaicans a peaceful and safe recovery.