Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, says that all is in place for the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which starts on June 1.
“Prime Minister Andrew Holness convened the meeting of the National Disaster Risk Management Council, indicating to the country that all systems are up and running as we approach this hurricane season,” McKenzie said at a virtual town hall on Thursday (May 28).
“As the Minister with responsibility for disaster preparedness, I want to assure the country that all the resources that will be required to ensure that we can respond in a positive and meaningful way will be provided by the Government. So, the country can rest assured that we are ready to respond to any eventuality that may come following on the heels of the coronavirus (COVID-19),” he added.
McKenzie noted that the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has procured all the necessary relief supplies.
“They have a storeroom that is well stocked, as they did stocking for COVID-19 and they have done additional stocking to maintain the level of the [supplies] they have in store,” he said.
He noted that as the country prepares for what is expected to be an active or above normal hurricane season, it is still combatting COVID-19 and dengue fever.
He assured, however, that the Government has the capacity to respond to the challenges, and urged the full cooperation of citizens.
“Let us work together to ensure that if we are affected this season, in any shape or form, that as a people we respond in a positive way. I ask persons that normally volunteer to help our shelters, to ensure that you keep in touch with your municipalities and keep in touch with the ODPEM,” he pleaded.
Acting Director General of the ODPEM, Richard Thompson, echoed the Minister’s call for citizens to play their part in the collective preparedness effort of the country.
He said that as the national disaster coordinator, the ODPEM stands ready to lead from the front in disaster risk management.
Head of the Disaster Risk Reduction Centre at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Dr. Barbara Carby, for her part, is encouraging Jamaicans to take greater responsibility for self and family.
“We must manage our own risk to help the country to manage the collective risk. Look out for your neighbor. There are vulnerable people in your community – lend a helping hand. Go do your research and inform yourselves as to precautionary measures and risk reduction measures and so on. Take that responsibility and help the country advance its disaster risk management programme,” she urged.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs to November 30 and is projected to be above normal, with two named tropical storms having already developed ahead of the season’s start.