Westmoreland reports highest number of displacements
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY Senior staff reporter
Friday, October 01, 2010
RESIDENTS of Westmoreland, Jamaica's westernmost parish, seem to have suffered the most from the showers dumped on the island by Tropical Storm Nicole with a number of them displaced in that area.
Yesterday, Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) Ronald Jackson said while all the figures were not yet in, early indications were that a significant number of residents in that parish had been affected.
"In terms of the largest number of persons affected it seems to be Westmoreland. We haven't gotten numbers for Westmoreland yet but we know that there is a large number of persons that are either marooned or displaced," Jackson told the Observer yesterday.
"Right now we are getting ready to try and supply 3,000 food packages for persons who are blocked in by the waters or who can hardly access any of the regular shops or supermarket facilities in that parish. The water there takes time to recede," he explained further.
Up to Observer press time last night, the ODPEM reported that there were 437 Jamaicans in 22 shelters opened in the parishes of Westmoreland, St Catherine, Kingston and St Andrew, Clarendon, and St James.
As to which other areas had the most displaced persons, Jackson said that the parish of St Catherine also "had quite a bit within excess of a hundred persons in shelters".
He said the ODPEM was still in the process of tallying the number of persons who were completely displaced.
"We are still trying to tally that because there are communication problems in some areas. There is no light in St Elizabeth and sections of Westmoreland so we are having very patchy communication and getting details is a little difficult at this time," he told the Observer.
Meantime, up until press time last night there were some five persons confirmed dead and between 12 and 15 missing.
By early yesterday Nicole -- which morphed from Tropical Depression number 16 to become the 14th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season -- had dissipated over the Straits of Florida but an area of cloudiness that it left behind continued to saturate the island with more showers and thunderstorms, further swelling rivers, blocking and/or eroding roads; forcing the closure of schools, banks, and other businesses; and cutting power from an estimated 170,000 households across the island.
According to the ODPEM, a total 128 communities had been affected -- 76 by flooding, six by landslide, three by freak storms, one by lightning and another by storm surge. Still yet other communities were marooned by landslides or flooding. It said central parishes were the most affected so far.
And the National Water Commission yesterday said 460 of its water supply systems had been severely affected, disrupting supplies thousands of customers. It said a number of persons were experiencing and would continue to experience either no water or low-water pressure.