Jamaicans affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

News Release

August 31, 2005

Jamaicans affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Nearly 344 Jamaican workers in the hospitality industry program in the USA have been identified among those persons affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina which devastated areas in four states including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Workers were stationed at three hotel properties in Mississippi – two in the city of Biloxi, and one in Gulf Port. All three sustained major damages to the properties which are currently closed.

Ms. Barbara Dacosta, Chief Liaison Officer of the Jamaica Central Labor Organization in Washington, D.C., has advised that contact has been made with all the workers and all are safe at this time, indicating that there have been no deaths nor injuries.

According to Ms. Dacosta, the workers are being housed in temporary shelters as homes have been damaged from flooding. While some have returned to their homes, other workers are currently sharing accommodations in those circumstances.

While all coordinating agencies have been put on alert, Ms. Dacosta is expected to meet with the management of those properties affected, during this week.

A total assessment will be made of the continuation of the program based on the damages on those properties. At this time, decisions will be made regarding the current housing situation as well as the relocation based on other opportunities available at other properties and also repatriation of some of the workers affected.

While two other properties in Lake Charles, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama sustained damages to a lesser degree from Hurricane Katrina, an additional 30 Jamaican workers at those locations were not affected in any way, she added. “At this time, we do not anticipate any disruptions” she advised.

The Consulate General office in Miami, has also been informed of some six students currently attending the Louisiana State University. Jamaica’s Consul General, Mr. Ricardo Allicock has also advised that contact has been made with those students.

At this time, he also advised that the Consulate is working with the Jamaica Central Labor Organization staff to ascertain the needs of all Jamaicans in the program whom have been affected.

Some 5,000 Jamaicans are currently employed under the Ministry of Labor’s Overseas Program in the hospitality and agricultural sector throughout the USA.

Cheryl Wynter (305-374-8384)