Tuesday 11 August, 2020

Municipal corporations out west preparing for hurricane season

St James Parish Disaster Preparedness Co-ordinator, Tamoy Sinclair.

St James Parish Disaster Preparedness Co-ordinator, Tamoy Sinclair.

Municipal corporations in western Jamaica are fast tracking preparations for the 2019 hurricane season, which began on June 1 and ends on November 30.

In St James, Parish Disaster Preparedness Co-ordinator, Tamoy Sinclair, told JIS News that key steps are being taken to ensure public safety throughout the period.

She said all 68 emergency shelters in the parish have been inspected and given the greenlight for temporary accommodation in the event of an emergency.

Sinclair said each shelter – whether school, community centre or church – will have at least two managers who are trained in shelter management, including first-aid.

“The municipal corporation also equips these individuals with some basic safety tools that they can utilise while serving in public, such as flashlights, first-aid kits and the necessary forms to ensure that the information on persons in the shelters can be properly recorded, so we can identify where they are from, the structure of their families, and to see how best we can assist them,” she said.

Sinclair indicated that the Jamaica Fire Brigade, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Roads and Works Department, Red Cross and the St James Public Health Department, all play integral roles in the process.

She noted that $700,000 has been allocated to each of the parish’s 17 divisions to further assist in the preparation, including drain cleaning.

Serious flooding in Montego Bay, St James during a recent hurricane season.

“We have also procured necessary items for persons who might be displaced. So, persons within the parish who suffer impacts throughout the hurricane season will receive necessary items once the assessment has been verified. Rest assured that the municipal corporation is making every effort to ensure that the residents of St James are safe and are thought about this 2019 hurricane season,” Sinclair said.

In Hanover, Parish Disaster Preparedness Co-ordinator, Keniesha Stennett-Dunbar, told JIS News that inspections are completed on the parish’s 55 emergency shelters. She noted that shelter manager training is complemented with public education in schools and communities.

Stennett-Dunbar also noted that there will be a number of relocation sites for persons living in some low-lying areas, such as Lance’s Bay.

It is a similar situation over in Trelawny, which currently has some 80 emergency shelters. The Parish Disaster Preparedness Co-ordinator, Dion Hylton-Lewis, said shelter manager training took place in South Trelawny on June 12 and 13.

“We have identified our emergency operations centre, and it has a standby generator. We have updated our resources; our contact list and our credit suppliers are in place. We continue to do drain cleaning, and we are expecting some welfare items from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) this month, so that we have supplies in store,” she explained.

The Parish Disaster Coordinator for Westmoreland, Hilma Tate, said the parish has 94 emergency shelters. She said first-aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) are among the training shelter managers have undergone, “because we can’t take anything for granted, and we want to encourage communities to have a plan.”

Over in St Elizabeth, Parish Disaster Preparedness Co-ordinator, Ornella Lewis, outlined that the parish stands ready with 90 emergency shelters.

She noted that nine persons from several communities were recently trained under the ODPEM initiative ‘National Disaster Risk Management Volunteer Programme ‘, and they are expected to add value to the parish’s overall trained shelter managers.

“We have procured the necessary equipment and we are sorting out our emergency supplies. Also, we will have arrangements with some credit facilities, such as supermarkets in various locations across the parish. We have some drain-cleaning exercises taking place. In the town of Black River, the Roads and Works Department is working assiduously. Our public education and awareness, that is always ongoing as it relates to our communities, schools and businesses,” Lewis said.

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