Plans are in place to extend the newly launched Portland Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund to the bordering parishes of St Mary and St Thomas, which were hardest hit by last week Wednesday's Category One tempest.
Sandy caused widespread devastation across the eastern parishes, ravaging homes, businesses, schools, churches, infrastructure and the agricultural sector.
After witnessing the extensive devastation in his own constituency on Monday, Daryl Vaz, member of parliament for West Portland, initiated the project. Recognising that the Government would not be in a position to sufficiently fund the recovery efforts, Vaz wanted an organised system in place to draw on the support of the private sector.
During the launch yesterday at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in St Andrew, Vaz extended an invitation to the members of parliament for the sister parishes to join the initiative.
"This is a call to action for not just Portland, but all those affected," Vaz stated.
Distribution of all donations to the fund, which will focus on the key areas of welfare, education and agriculture, will be managed by Food For The Poor (FFP). Working with the churches and councillors in the divisions across the parishes, an assessment will be done of those in need of assistance and once it is determined that the need is genuine, disbursements will be made.
Andrew Mahfood, executive director of FFP, said no cash disbursement would be made, only materials.
Dr Andrew Foote, chairman of the fund, said after six months, a report would be presented on how the funds were disbursed.
In the meantime, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites said the current estimated damage to schools in Portland stood at $92 million.
Members of the initiative include Foote, Paula Pinnock-MacLeod, Shelly-Ann Curran, Andrew Cocking and Philip Armstrong.
Companies that have so far committed support include Wisynco, Jamaica Broilers, Tank-Weld, Bank of Nova Scotia, Carib Cement, Creative Media and Supreme Ventures, along with several individuals. FFP has also pledged US$100,000.
Donations to the fund can be made to the National Commercial Bank, account number 351119322; the offices at 20 South Avenue in St Andrew; or Food For The Poor's Jamaica and Florida, United States locations.
In addition to accepting donations, the organisation will also be hosting two fund-raising events, a cocktail party and a concert.
Contact can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org or 876-486-9383 or 876-531-0698.
CAPTION: Tajay McDonald (left) and Amoy Ramsay, students of Windsor Castle All-Age School in Portland, speak with Andrew Mahfood (second left), executive director of Food For The Poor, member of parliament for West Portland, Daryl Vaz (second right), and Ronald Jackson, director general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, during yesterday's launch of the Portland Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in St Andrew. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer