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Caribbean Diplomats Update US Congress on Regional Disaster Recovery Efforts

WASHINGTON, DC – Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Anthony Johnson, has appealed to the US Congress and other agencies, for additional assistance towards the nation’s Tropical Storm Gustav recovery effort.

Ambassador Johnson, who was one of four diplomats who briefed members of staff of the Congress on the recovery efforts in their respective countries, during a special meeting at Capitol Hill on September 18, advised that assistance received thus far from the United States, and other countries, including Canada, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, China, and Belize, had enabled Jamaica to effect relief in some of the worst affected areas.

“Total damage has been estimated at US$220 million, with 12 lives lost; over 358 houses totally destroyed…another 1,458 severely damaged; two major bridges destroyed; 10 schools seriously damaged; and 130 water systems seriously disrupted. (However) within two days of the passage of Tropical Storm Gustav, Jamaica’s facilities were fully open for business with the world he said.

“The island’s two international airports and seven international seaports are now fully operational and have been used as points of safe haven (for other countries) during the passage of (other) tropical storms. The country’s tourism industry was not affected by the tropical storm,” Ambassador Johnson informed, and expressed gratitude for the assistance received thus far.

Ambassador Johnson also expressed regret, on behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica, at the loss of lives and damage to and destruction of property which sections of the southern United States suffered as a result of the passage of Hurricane Ike.

Also attending the meeting were Haiti’s Ambassador to the United States, Raymond Joseph, and First Secretaries Ian Collard of the British Embassy, representing the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Minister Counsellor, Embassy of the Bahamas, Rhoda Jackson, who also provided updates on the recovery process in their countries.

Ambassador Joseph advised the Congress that US$400 million is needed to rebuild Haiti, which was affected by four hurricanes in less than one month. He said 4,000 homes were destroyed along with seven major bridges, and agricultural crops. In addition, he said Haiti was in urgent need of water, food, and medical supplies, and appealed to Congress to assist as best as possible.

The meeting was organised by Congress members, Barbara Lee and Eliot Engel.(JIS)

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