The Government is providing more than $8 million to assist small business operators in Port Maria and its environs who suffered losses due to severe flooding in the coastal town earlier this year.
An initial 35 flood relief cheques were handed over on Wednesday (March 30) at the St. Mary’s Anglican Church Hall.
The cheques are disbursed in values of $25,000, $50,000, $75,000 and $100,000, based on the level of damage sustained, as determined by a Social Development Commission (SDC) assessment.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, who handed over the cheques, said this initial disbursement is intended to assist the operators to begin the path to recovery.
“What we are doing is offering some level of assistance, especially to the small business community,” he said.
A total of 209 business operators in Port Maria and surrounding areas, such as Jack’s River, will benefit from the support.
More than 90 per cent of businesses and homes in the town were impacted by the flooding.
Minister McKenzie informed that a technical team has been established to address the problem of flooding in the town.
The team involves representatives from the National Works Agency (NWA), the St. Mary Municipal Corporation, and the Ministry through the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).
“The long-term programme to sustain Port Maria and to help to mitigate… levels of flooding is in progress,” he noted.
Mayor of Port Maria, Councillor Richard Creary, in his remarks, urged the recipients to put the funds towards the recovery of their businesses and to implement measures to make their establishments more resilient.
“It is something to assist you; it is not to replace all you have lost… . We want to try to help you to strengthen those businesses to what they were before,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security is aiding approximately 800 affected homeowners and more than 100 arcade vendors impacted by flooding.