JIS News

The Government is making special arrangements to assist communities that are still suffering from the effects of Tropical Storm Nicole, as Tomas, which was downgraded to a depression overnight, moves closer to the island.
Addressing the House of Representatives last evening (Nov. 2), Minister with Responsibility for Information, Telecommunications, and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz, said that measures include, and were not limited to, voluntary and possible mandatory evacuation.
He said that the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has assured that its operations and the usual contingency plans are on track.
He informed that the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) is assisting with the pruning of trees, and so far, a number of calls have been received for the service. “I urge Members of Parliament that if there is any area or anybody that you feel is in danger I would encourage you to be in touch with the solid waste agency,” he said.
Minister Vaz told the House that key tips for the protection of person and property have been disseminated via the media and social networking sites, while parish committees have started meetings.
“Priority shelters in highly vulnerable areas have been identified and will be activated by latest Thursday morning (Nov.4), into the afternoon.measures are being activated to pre-position shelter supplies within the parishes within the current resource capacity.arrangements,” he informed.
Additionally, arrangements have been put in place with suppliers for food and water, and for possible relief air flights. Meanwhile, a protocol has been reestablished with telecommunications providers Digicel, LIME, and Claro for text messages, the scripts for which have been submitted by ODPEM.
The Information Minister noted that additional boats are being sourced through Food for the Poor for the areas that are already under water, or are likely to be inundated.
In addition, arrangements through local suppliers are being put in place for tarpaulins and additional cots to bolster supplies at ODPEM.
A press briefing is to be held by ODPEM at 10:00 this morning (Nov. 3) to outline the list of priority shelter plans for evacuation and security for shelters, as well as welfare support. Budgets are being developed for parish disaster committees for welfare operations.
Mr. Vaz assured that, “all is in place in order to face the challenges of the adverse weather conditions, and we are planning for a worst case scenario, and work our way back, if that does not come”.
According to a release from the Meteorological Service this morning, a hurricane watch remains in effect for the island as Tropical Depression Tomas is expected to re-strengthen today and tomorrow and move close to the island. “This means that hurricane conditions still pose a possible threat within 48 hours,” the bulletin said.
At 7:00 a.m. the centre of Tropical Depression Tomas was located near latitude 13.7 degrees North, longitude 75.8 degrees West; about 490 km (300 miles) South of Morant Point, Jamaica or 660 km (410 miles) Southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
The Met Service said that based on the current forecast track, Tomas could begin to produce increased rainfall across Jamaica, starting with southern and eastern parishes, as early as this evening, increasing on Thursday and Friday as the system moves closer.
Increases in wind speed will begin later in this cycle and could peak with near-hurricane force winds over eastern sections of the island on Friday, the agency informed.