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Cabinet to get prelim estimate on Sandy damage Monday

Alicia Dunkley-Willis

Saturday, October 27, 2012    

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CABINET is on Monday expected to be presented with preliminary figures of the damage to the island's infrastructure caused by Wednesday's passage of Hurricane Sandy, the first hurricane to make landfall since the Atlantic Hurricane Season began in June.

"There is no preliminary figure at this time; the prime minister has asked all the agencies that are doing assessments that they give us preliminary figures that the Cabinet can look at and also look at the short-term priorities that we need to focus on and then after that we can get more accurate assessments," Information Minister Senator Sandrea Falconer told journalists during an emergency press briefing at Jamaica House in Kingston on Thursday.

"I think whatever we are going to get in the next few days will be very preliminary assessments," Senator Falconer said.

Meanwhile, she said Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller — who cut short an official visit to Canada and returned to the island on Tuesday ahead of the Category one storm — had been briefed by the National Disaster Committee Thursday morning. Simpson Miller also conducted a two-hour aerial tour of the island viewing mostly St Catherine, Portland, St Mary, and St Thomas — the parishes hardest hit.

"The report that we are getting is that in terms of the damage on the ground those were the hardest hit areas of the country," Falconer told journalists.

In the meantime she said reports from light and power provider Jamaica Public Service (JPS) was that its systems in Kingston and St Andrew had been worst affected.

"The JPS is reporting that 50 per cent of its customers now have electricity and some areas fully restored," Falconer said. In the wake of the hurricane, JPS said Clarendon had 16 per cent outtage; Hanover zero per cent; Kingston and St Andrew 55 per cent; Manchester 44 per cent; Portland 100, St Ann, St Mary and St Thomas 100 per cent; St Elizabeth three per cent; St James 14 per cent; Trelawny 38 per cent; and Westmoreland seven per cent.

By early yesterday, the JPS reported that restoration had climbed to 60 per cent and that most of the Corporate Area would have been restored by the day's end.

In the meantime, Local Government Minister Noel Arscott — who had also toured the island — said reports showed severe damage to agricultural crops and roofs especially in the three parishes to the East.

"St Mary has been hit badly, Portland and St Thomas as well as sections of St Catherine and St Ann. You could see the destruction of the banana crops that side, I am sure you will hear more from the agriculture minister as they do their costing in relation to the loss to farmers," Arscott said.

Meanwhile, National Works Agency Communications Manager Stephen Shaw said the NWA had received about 150 reports of corridors being impacted, including main and parochial roads.

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