KINGSTON, Jamaica – Preliminary estimates from the Planning Institute of Jamaica have put the damage caused by Hurricane Dennis at $1.9 billion.
Minister of Information, Senator Burchell Whiteman, said that Cabinet received this information yesterday, even as reports were being reviewed on the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Emily which affected the island on Saturday.
Hurricane Dennis drenched the island on July 7, causing widespread flooding in several parishes. Damage to the road network and bridges was significant and the agricultural sector was also hit hard. Some 40 per cent of the banana crop in eastern parishes was destroyed, according to the Jamaica Gleaner.
Speaking at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House yesterday, Senator Whiteman said that of this figure, $1.1 billion accounted for the damage done to roads and infrastructure, the remainder accounting for destruction to crops and other areas in which ‘Dennis” impact was felt.
Senator Whiteman said that the Government would not be seeking external help to address the damage from the two hurricanes.
“We welcome whatever help is given, as indeed two countries in the Caribbean did provide at a certain level, for which we are grateful. But, I don’t anticipate that we will be seeking outside intervention to meet the cost of these two disasters,” he said.
The Information Minister said the Government would continue its emergency work until final assessments are done.
“The decisions need to be taken as to how much you do and where and when, because we are in a season where, if you attempt to do too much in terms of road repairs, you may well have that undone before the season is out,” he noted.
“It has to be a careful matching of needs. The basic needs will have to be met,” he added.
Senator Whiteman said that the remaining cheques for disbursement to persons who had suffered minor damage during Hurricane Ivan last September are ready for distribution.
Meanwhile, Dr. Barbara Carby, director-general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, told journalists at the press briefing that just under 400 persons were still in shelters.
“Most persons are now able to go home so it is really a matter of putting the pieces back together,” she said.
Exceptions to this, she said, were residents of the community of Big Woods in St. Elizabeth who were marooned.
She said water levels are expected to rise in the communities of Slipe and Chigwell in Hanover and Newmarket in St. Elizabeth.