Speech by the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Holness National Message to the Nation on the Preparation for Hurricane Beryl

Prime Minister Holness National Message to the Nation on the Preparation for Hurricane Beryl

National Address


The Most Honourable Andrew Holness ON, PC, MP

Prime Minister of Jamaica

About the

Preparation for Hurricane Beryl


July 2, 2024



My fellow Jamaicans,

Huricane Beryl maintains its path to impact Jamaica early tomorrow morning.  In an Emergency Meeting of Caricom Heads this morning, we were briefed on the destructive impact of the hurricane on our Eastern Caribbean sister islands. We expressed our solidarity and willingness to support, even as we make our own preparations. Jamaica must take this hurricane seriously!

Early this morning, the Cabinet reviewed our plans to manage the threat of the hurricane, and a caucus of Parliament was also briefed on our state of readiness and provisions for emergency response. In this regard, the government has made a special allocation of $5m per constituency to assist with emergency cases for food and building supplies through the CDF.

After careful review of the trajectory of the storm, the likely strength and impact, the potential threats emanating, and having been notified in writing by the Minister responsible for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, I am now declaring the whole of Jamaica to be a Disaster Area, in accordance with Section 26 of the Disaster Risk Management Act for the next seven (7) days. All Jamaicans should note that, following this declaration, an Islandwide Curfew will be in effect between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, the 3rd of July 2024. This is to ensure the safety of everyone during the passage of the storm and prevent any movement with the intent to carry out criminal activity.

An evacuation order, on the direction of authorized officers, is also in effect for flood and landslide-prone areas, areas at or below sea level, and areas at or close to gullies or waterways. We urge all Jamaicans to comply with notices to evacuate, if and when they are issued. However, even without the issuance of a notice, if you live in a low-lying area, an area historically prone to flooding and landslides, or you live on the banks of a river or gully, I implore you to evacuate to a shelter or to safer ground.

The Minister with responsibility for Commerce will also make an Order under Section 8 of the Trade Act to prevent price gouging of essential goods during a period of disaster.

The Minister of Transport has also made arrangements with the operators of the East West and North South Toll Highways to give free access to the toll roads between the hours of 6 p.m. and midnight today, July 2, 2024. This is to ensure that all Jamaicans are able to get home safely and conveniently.

The details of the various orders will be gazetted, published in our media, and posted on various government sites. The situation is dynamic, and the government continues to monitor developments and will provide regular updates. The entire government and all relevant personnel are in a state of readiness to manage the disaster. ODPEM is leading the National Disaster Response, the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) has been activated, and all relevant agencies are on high alert.

As we brace for the potential impacts of Hurricane Beryl, we also need our Jamaican households to be prepared. It is imperative that we remain calm. Here are some very important steps that each of us should take to ensure our safety and the safety of our loved ones:

  1. Stay Informed: Regularly check reliable sources for updates on the hurricane’s progress. Tune in to local news stations, listen to the radio, and follow official social media channels such as the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) for the latest information. The Met Service and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) will provide timely updates.
  2. Create an Emergency Plan: Discuss with your family and loved ones what actions to take in the event of an emergency. Identify a safe room or area in your home where you can take shelter during the storm. Ensure that everyone knows the location of emergency supplies, such as flashlights, batteries, and first aid kits. This can be a particularly fearful time for children. Take some time to reassure and comfort them.
  3. Stock Up on Essentials: By now you should have an emergency supply kit with enough food, water, medications, and other necessities.
  4. Secure Your Property: Take steps to protect your home from potential damage. You should have already pruned trees arounded your property, secured loose items that could become projectiles in high winds, and boarded up windows.
  5. Know Emergency Numbers: Familiarize yourself with emergency contact numbers:
    • Police, Fire, and Ambulance: 119
    • Weather Updates: 116
    • ODPEM: (876) 906-9674
    • Jamaica Public Service (JPS): 1-888-CALL-JPS (1-888-225-5577)

During the passage of the hurricane, there may be loss of electricity and water. Emergency services will seek to restore power and water as quickly as possible. However, citizens should not seek to remove downed poles or power lines or disturb water mains. Please use the emergency numbers given to report damage to public utilities and do not take unnecessary risks.

Additionally, the JCF and the JDF will be fully mobilized to maintain public order and assist with disaster relief as soon as the hurricane has passed. The security forces have developed strategic plans to counter any potential threat of looting or any other opportunitistic crimes during this period.

Hurricane Beryl is the earliest Category 5 hurricane on record. It highlights the growing impact of climate change on global weather patterns, particularly on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Jamaica.  While our carbon emissions are miniscule, our region bears the brunt of the impacts of climate change. This hurricane further highlights the urgent need for global climate action and targeted support to enhance resilience against the escalating dangers of climate change.

Your government understands that we live in a time of overlapping crises and unpredictable external shocks not of our making. This means that as a government and as a people, we must be resilient. We must build the capacity to absorb shocks and recover quickly. We have been through disasters in recent years, including a pandemic, and we have recovered quickly.

We have been mainstreaming climate resilience in all our plans and programmes, including the design and construction of our new infrastructure, our fiscal arrangements, and our national security planning. We continue to build our reserves to provide buffers for the economy in the event of natural disasters.

By any measure, as a country, we are more prepared than any time in our history to handle these shocks. Nevertheless, we know that it will bring difficult times during the impact and the recovery. However, if we bond together as a people and each of us commits to act as responsible citizens, we can get through this and recover quickly.

Let us do all we can to preserve life. Listen to the warnings, act wisely, and put away violent response to conflicts that may occur in the crisis. Let’s commit to being our brother’s keeper. Look out for our neighbour, the elderly and infirm. Now is the time that we need community. It is the spirit of community that will pull us through.

I know there are many Jamaicans praying right now. Please continue to lift Jamaica up in your prayers. With the blessings of God and the vessel of preparation we have made, we will safely ride out the storm.

May God bless us all and keep us safe. Thank you.