Hurricane Watch Now In Effect for Jamaica, as Hurricane Dean Reaches Category 4 Strength


The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has been advised by the Meteorological Service of Jamaica that a Hurricane Watch is now in effect for Jamaica as Hurricane Dean, the first hurricane of the 2007 Atlantic Hurricane Season, continues to move towards the island.
Hurricane Dean is moving towards the west near 27.8 km/h (17 mph) and this general motion is expected to continue with a slight decrease in forward speed.

Projected Path of Hurricane Dean

Hurricane Dean has top sustained winds of 150 mph; a destructive and life-threatening category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Dean could become a category 5 hurricane over the weekend or early in the week.
In response to the threat posed by Hurricane Dean, the ODPEM has fast-tracked its emergency response activities. The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) will be activated on Saturday, August 18, from 9:00 a.m. Persons can contact the NEOC at 930-0660-1
Evacuations
The ODPEM is advising all persons who live along the coastline or in low-lying and flood-prone areas to be on high alert to evacuate once the order is given.
– Finalize your evacuation plans, making sure you know of all available safe routes out of your communities.
– Find out the locations of the closest shelters to your home.
– If you do not plan to stay at public shelters make early arrangements with family members and/or friends to stay with them if your house is not strong enough to withstand hurricane conditions.
The ODPEM will provide the public with information on those specific areas to be evacuated, once this has been deemed necessary.
Vulnerable Community Members
All community members are reminded to keep an eye out for vulnerable persons in your community such as the elderly and/or disabled persons living on their own and pregnant women. Notify your local authorities – the Parish Council or the ODPEM – if such persons are living in your community and will need assistance.
Businesses
All business owners are encouraged to give staff adequate time to make their own family/personal arrangements to prepare for Hurricane Dean. Business owners are also encouraged to initiate their own preparations, if they have not already done so.
Shelters
If you believe your home cannot offer adequate protection against the winds from a hurricane or floodwater, plan to leave before the impact. Under the national Shelter Programme, government-owned schools are designated as shelters. Information about shelters in your parish can be obtained from the Parish Disaster Coordinator (PDC) at Parish Councils islandwide or from the ODPEM. Find out the safest possible route to the nearest shelter. The following items can be taken to a shelter: blankets; flashlights and extra batteries; extra clothing; medication; 24 hours supply of non-perishable food and water – do not forget to take with you a can opener; toiletries such as soap, toilet tissue and sanitary napkins; infant necessities such as diapers and baby food; disposable cups, plates and forks; a portable radio and batteries; and a First Aid Kit.
In the meantime the public is reminded to:
1. Stay tuned to the news and weather reports and listen out for emergency instructions, if any should be given.
2. Thoroughly check the roof of your house, hurricane shutters, hooks and latches and repair where necessary.
3. Have your emergency supplies, such as tinned goods and candles, in place.
4. Prune trees that hang over your homes and other buildings if Hurricane Dean should impact the island.
5. Get extra plastic bags and sheets of plastic to protect your important documents, paintings, equipment and furniture from getting wet.
6. Be ready for quick evacuation if you live in low-lying or flood-prone areas.
7. All small craft operators, including fishers on the cays and banks, should by now be arriving in port to start preparations for safe harbour.
The progress of Hurricane Dean will continue to be closely monitored by the Meteorological Service of Jamaica and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and updates will be released to the public as soon as new information has been gathered.

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