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Families in need of aid as Portland Cottage is once again devastated by a hurricane

UNICEF Image: Jamaica, Hurrican Dean
© UNICEF Jamaica/2007/ Dias
A family surveys the few remains of what was once their home after Hurricane Dean devastated Portland Cottage on 19 August.

By Monica Dias

PORTLAND COTTAGE, Jamaica, 23 August, 2007 – Amid the rubble and clothes spread out to dry on fallen tree branches, water soaked mattresses and pieces of furniture, the children of Portland Cottage cling shyly to their mothers for safety. For the second time in three years, this small fishing community has experienced the fury of a hurricane. 

When Hurricane Ivan ripped through the southern coast of Jamaica in 2005, eight people died in Portland Cottage, including three children who drowned while their parents attempted to carry them to safety. Since that time, protective measures have been taken and thankfully, there were no deaths during the passage of Hurricane Dean on 19 August.

However, Portland Cottage is once again a devastated community. The winds tore apart the zinc roofs of almost all the homes and rains left mud levels approximately four inches high. Broken light poles and electric wires were also impeding the passage of trucks bearing clean water.  

Fleeing to safety

Some 180 persons, including 13 children, fled to the primary school on a hill while other families sought refuge with neighbours on higher ground.   A total of 167 shelters are now open across the island, housing nearly 3,500 survivors, including 170 children.

UNICEF is providing 1,000 water containers to support the emergency effort and has procured emergency health kits to assist 4,000 children.  The regional office in Jamaica is providing an additional 1,000 water containers and the French National Committee for UNICEF has pledged US $100,000 for emergency relief.

"We don't have anything left" said one survivor and mother, after having returned to see what had happened to her house. She saw only the remains of the red concrete flooring. Her home had been shattered into pieces, furniture and clothes flung in every direction.

"I am just trying to dry out some clothes. We need water and food," she said. Her voice trailed off as she cast an anxious eye at her children. They are scheduled to return to school in one week, but in the wake of this destruction, it is the furthest thing from their minds.



Uniwiki reports

22 August 2007:
UNICEF Representative Bainvel, speaking by cell phone via the Uniwiki reporting system, gives an update on the crisis response to Hurricane Dean in Jamaica.
AUDIO listen mp3

21 August 2007:
UNICEF Representative Bainvel talks about relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Dean.
 AUDIO listen mp3

17 August 2007:
UNICEF Representative Bainvel discusses emergency preparations for Hurricane Dean.
 AUDIO listen mp3

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