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Tropical Storm Ian leaves $360m in damage to road network — PM Loop Jamaica

The preliminary estimate of the damage caused by the flood rains associated with Tropical Storm Ian, the outer bands of which lashed the island on the weekend into Monday, has been put at $360 million.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness gave the estimate as he addressed the House of Representatives on Wednesday. He stressed that it was a preliminary figure, as teams from the National Works Agency (NWA) were still conducting assessments.

“Thankfully, it is not in the billions,” Holness said while reminding that weather-related events over the past four years have left at least $1 billion in damage on each occasion.

He shared that the $360 million was to reopen roads and make surfaces drivable. Separately, he said the NWA was in the process of completing designs for retaining walls and pavements that were washed out.

The prime minister said the cost of permanent repairs is being assessed and should be available in the next two weeks, at which time he will update the Parliament.

He said he expects the NWA to find the $360 million within its budget while acknowledging that there may have to be some allocation to repair retaining walls when those are fully assessed.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness makes a statement to the House of Representatives on September 28. (Photo: JIS)

Noting that the tropical storm began affecting the island last Friday, Holness cited that many places were flooded, landslides were triggered while there were scoured roads and fallen trees.

He said the continuous rains left some communities marooned, especially those in low-lying and flood-prone areas along the southern coast.

According to the NWA, the hardest-hit parishes were St Catherine, Clarendon, Kingston and St Andrew, St Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Trelawny, and Portland.

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“The NWA has, per its mandate, assumed the central role in the intermediate aftermath of the flood rains by mobilising equipment and personnel to clear blocked roads and restore access to communities. The agency is now undertaking a rapid assessment to determine the full extent of the impact of the rains as well as to enable the determination for additional remediation or remedial measures,” Holness said.

He said the preliminary assessment from the NWA is that 47 roads were affected by landslides, mudflows, downed trees, or inundation, which rendered some communities inaccessible. All roads have since been reopened, except for some corridors particularly in Clarendon Northern, including from Chapelton to Rock River.

“As of today (Wednesday), most, if not all the areas where water had accumulated would have already receded,” said the prime minister.

He also said several communities, particularly in Clarendon and St Catherine, were impacted by the flood rains with reports of damaged roads to varying degrees, especially in low-lying areas.