Our region – our scattering of islands, large and small – has never felt so vulnerable in the face of the monstrous Hurricane Irma, which has devastated the little island of Barbuda, besides Saint Martin/Sint Maarten and the Virgin Islands. Irma is a little closer to us now, and right over the Turks and Caicos Islands (whose highest point, I learned today, is 161 feet)… We are so fortunate in that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and José have decided not to bother us here in Jamaica. Meanwhile, there are Jamaicans all over the region of course, and our diligent Foreign Affairs Minister is keeping an eye on things. Here is the Ministry’s press release:
Foreign Minister Giving Close Attention to Devastation Caused by Hurricane Irma
September 7, 2017
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade wishes to advise that it is in active contact with authorities in the Caribbean region, with our High Commissioner in Port-of-Spain, our Consul General in Miami, our Honorary Consuls, with other formal and informal sources, and with several of our nationals, to determine the extent of the loss of lives, injury and damage caused by category 5 Hurricane Irma, which continues its passage throughout the Caribbean. We are seeking to ascertain the kind of support and assistance that we can provide to our Caribbean brothers and sisters, as well as to our nationals who reside in the affected countries.
Senator Johnson Smith stated; “Because of the clear issues with which governments are dealing however, communication through the usual government channels and even with members of the Jamaican community in affected islands, is extremely difficult. Notwithstanding these difficulties, we continue to pay close attention to official reports and to explore different avenues to try to reach community members. We will provide more detailed updates in the hours to come, as more information becomes available.”
The Minister expressed regret at the widely reported extensive damage that has been caused to Barbuda, Saint Martin and Sint Maarten as well as the British Virgin Islands. She indicated that the Government of Antigua & Barbuda has advised that in Barbuda communication is completely down, and access to Barbuda is restricted to helicopters, with access by boat limited due to treacherous seas. She also noted with some distress that Antigua & Barbuda are again under hurricane watch with the approach of a second system, Hurricane José, and therefore their response is not only to what has taken place, but what is to come. Several other islands are also now under hurricane watch, including the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas.
The Minister advised that in telephone discussions with Jamaica’s Honorary Government Representative in the TCI, he expressed confidence in the emergency preparation plans of the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and indicated that he had made efforts to encourage Jamaicans who were not leaving the TCI to follow official announcements and directions of the government.
Contact: Ann-Margaret Lim: 499-0625