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JAM | Jul 11, 2024

J$10 billion price tag | Preliminary estimates reveal extensive hurricane damage to several sectors

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness making a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, July 9, 2024. (Photo: JIS)

Preliminary estimates have revealed that Hurricane Beryl has caused extensive damage across several sectors.

Hurricane Beryl brushed just south on the island last Wednesday (July 3), causing major damage to roadway infrastructure, buildings, and agriculture and claiming the lives of at least two Jamaicans.

While hurricane damage assessment is ongoing, Prime Minister Andrew Holness reported on Tuesday, (July 9), that the preliminary estimate of road infrastructure damage is at some J$10.25 billion. 

Critical infrastructure such as hospitals has also sustained damage from Beryl, with some 38 per cent of public hospitals sustaining damage. Holness says the total estimated cost to repair infrastructure damage to hospitals is some J$1.8 billion.

The education sector has also sustained some damage following the passage of Beryl. Preliminary estimates show that the sector sustained some J$797 million in damage to schools due to Hurricane Beryl.

According to the education ministry, the majority of the cost is associated with schools in St Ann and Trelawny, however, this preliminary estimate does not account for schools in St Mary, Portland, or St Thomas.

The agricultural sector, by which many Jamaicans earn their livelihood, has also been severely impacted by Hurricane Beryl, with over $1 billion reported in damage.

Dozens of sweet peppers litter the ground after the greenhouse in which they were
being grown was destroyed by Hurricane Beryl (Photo: Contributed)

The southern parishes of Clarendon, Manchester, St Elizabeth were among the hardest hit by the hurricane. Vegetable and banana farmers, as well as fishermen, were dealt a blow during the hurricane.

The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) alluded to the impact of the Beryl as a likely cause for food shortages nationally.

The country’s utility providers were also affected by the passage of Hurricane Beryl, which toppled several utility poles and trees, leaving many Jamaicans without electricity today, July 11.

The Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Company Limited reported extensive damage to its powerlines and transformers in several parishes, with St Elizabeth being among the hardest hit parishes.

Jamaica Public Service (JPS) personnel guide a utility pole during ongoing power restoration efforts after the passage of Hurricane Beryl on July 7, 2024. (Photo: X.com @myJPSonline)

Up to Wednesday (July 10), JPS reported that power has been restored to 88 per cent of customers across the island. 

Flow reports that its population coverage as of July 8 was 81 per cent while Digicel reports 85 per cent of population coverage.

Despite the significant damage to various sectors, however, Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie has given the government a 9 out of 10 for its post-hurricane response efforts.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie (right), addressing a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. Looking on is Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Information, Skills and Digital Transformation, Senator Dr Dana Morris Dixon. (Photo: JIS)

The prime minister announced the Relief Emergency Assistance and Community Help (REACH) programme will form a critical part of the national relief efforts for Jamaicans following the impact of Hurricane Beryl.

The programme will include the distribution of food and essential supplies, utility, water, electricity, and telecommunications restoration, housing, reconstruction support, economic support, and the restoration of livelihoods.

An additional J$3 million will be allocated to constituencies that have suffered severe damage following an assessment by the Office of Disaster and Preparedness Emergency Management (ODPEM).

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