Local businesses and residents have already deposited over $100,000 in the relief fund set up for victims of Hurricane Dean in Jamaica.
‘They got hit very hard on the South Coast of Jamaica, which is the same area that took the brunt in Hurricane Ivan,’ said Robert Hamaty of the Jamaican Consular Office in the Cayman Islands.
At Quick Cash downtown there was a steady stream of residents who were sending money directly to family members. Andrea Campbell who works behind the counter explained that from last week Wednesday to Saturday, the company had waived the transfer fees.
‘A lot of people have been sending funds to the south coast areas, places like St. Elizabeth, Clarendon and Kingston,’ she said.
Other local money transfer companies, including the National Building Society, also waived the cost of the transfers.
Maureen Hamilton, who is originally from the Portland area, was making a transfer to her sister in St. Elizabeth.
‘[The people in the area] are farmers – tomatoes, vegetables, stuff like that – and their crops got hit pretty hard. It is difficult for them right now.
Miss Hamilton added that she knew quite a few other people who have sent money to friends and family in Jamaica.
Not long after it became apparent that Jamaica had taken a hit from Dean, Cayman National Bank donated 50,000 dollars and set up two accounts for fundraising activity.
By Thursday morning an additional $25,000 had been deposited by the Consul Office and the Relief Committee, and another $25,000 had been given by businesses and individuals in the local community.
Other assistance has come in the form of lowered phone rates from Digicel and Cable & Wireless. Cayman Airways has also donated tickets and are transporting donated relief goods, such as canned food, books and other items.
The goods are being packaged for transport by Cayman Dispatch Services and the Flowers Group, also for free.
‘Fosters Food Fair dropped off a whole truck load of supplies at the [American Airlines] Cargo Facility and we are very grateful for that,’ said Mr. Hamaty. ‘Anyone who still wants to drop off clothing or other non-perishable items can do so.
‘Overall we are seeing a really good response coming from the community here in the Cayman Islands. Some of the churches have held special services, financial offerings have been collected and they will also go towards relief efforts.’
Remarkably only six deaths have been reported from Jamaica so far, but in some areas such as Rocky Point and Lionel Town, poor fishing villages on the South Coast, the devastation has been pretty bad.
‘The relief funds that are collected in the Cayman Islands will be dispersed at a later date and the trustees will decide how the money will be spent,’ explained Mr. Hamaty.
The trustees include Cayman National Bank (CNB) Chief Executive Officer Stuart Dack; CNB President Ormond Williams; and Elaine Harris and Mr. Hamaty of the Jamaican Consulate.
‘We will look at the situation and try to determine where the money is really needed,’ Mr. Hamaty said. ‘It will go to a good cause. For example it may go to a school or for new text books, something like that, but we will keep the money separate from the main relief fund in Jamaica
‘We want to make sure it doesn’t end up getting politicized.’
Those wishing to donate to the fund can make a deposit at any Cayman National Bank branch, to CI Savings Account #012-30238 or US Savings Account # 022-19115.