Floods impact Jamaica budget

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday September 30, 2010 – The flooding experienced in Jamaica that has claimed the lives of two people, with six others still missing and feared dead, is now also expected to have an impact on the country’s budget. Just how much, Prime Minister Bruce Golding can’t say just yet, but he has made it clear that “the damage is going to be expensive”.

Heavy rains from what was first tropical depression 16 and then Tropical Storm Nicole (which has since dissipated) caused flooding across the country over three days. Houses were washed away, bridges collapsed, roads were flooded and crops were destroyed in the deluge.

Golding said yesterday that while it’s still too early to say what the extent of the impact would be, there was no getting away from the fact that the J$503 billion (US$5.8 billion) budget would have to be adjusted to facilitate the major repairs.

“What is very clear from previous experience is that it is going to require adjustments and how those adjustments will be designed and how they will be struck is something we will have to explore,” he told a press conference after getting an aerial view of some of the damage.

Golding identified Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine in the southeast of the island, and Clarendon in the south as the worst affected parishes.

Officials are waiting until the weather improves to carry out a thorough assessment. But forecasters say even though Tropical Storm Nicole is no more, two additional weather systems in the area could bring more rains and cause flooding.

The two fatalities were a 68-year-old farmer who was washed away by the floodwaters and a teenager who was in a house with the rest of his family when it fell into a gully. Media reports indicate that the boy’s three siblings, his mother, her common-law husband, and a female friend who was  visiting the family at the time are the six who have not been found and are presumed dead.

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