Jamaica Hit by ‘Unprecedented Rainfall’

The Head of the Meteorological Service, Evan Thompson, says the island has got an ‘unprecedented’ and ‘significant’ increase in rainfall in recent days.

He says several parishes have surpassed their monthly averages for rainfall in just two to four days. He says the rainfall will begin to decrease after today.

Evan Thompson was speaking at a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, in St. Andrew. He says the island should experience what’s usually considered normal conditions by Friday.

The rains have already caused widespread flooding across several parishes, still reeling from the ravages of heavy rains late last month which caused at least half-a-billion dollars in damage.

Most schools and some health centres in the worst affected parishes closed today.

Some businesses have also closed early. And, today’s meeting of the House of Representatives was canceled as elected officials tended to their constituencies.

Earlier, Prime Minister Andrew Holness instructed that all national emergency systems be activated as heavy rain continues to affect many sections of the island.

The emergency agencies include the National Works Agency, NWA, and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, ODPEM, as well as local representatives.

The Prime Minister says all the agencies should mobilise their resources to deal with the impact of the ‘extraordinary rain’, and support residents who may need help in flooded areas.

Press Secretary, Naomi Francis, told a media briefing at Jamaica House a short while ago that Prime Minister Holness has cut short his official visit to the Dominican Republic and is to return to the island tonight.

Mr. Holness was originally scheduled to return to Jamaica tomorrow afternoon.