• JIS News

    With the start of the 2010 hurricane season just weeks away, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is encouraging Jamaicans to begin now to prepare, to mitigate the effects of any disaster.
    “Let us all begin to prepare in your homes, in your offices, your companies, your private sector organisations, your social clubs and in your churches. We need to start the preparation at that level,” said Director of Information and Training at the ODPEM, Miss Delmares White, at a JIS Think Tank on Wednesday (May 12).
    She urged the media to help to disseminate timely disaster information to the public during the period and for the information to be sourced from the responsible agencies to ensure accuracy.
    She noted that disaster preparation in Jamaica is a multi-stakeholder process with OPDEM as the coordinating agency.
    “The preparation for the hurricane season rests with all the ministries. although we (ODPEM) coordinate the activities and the rescue, each ministry has a mandate and a role to play. Sometimes, we answer all the questions because the other organisations feed the information to us,” Miss White pointed out.
    In the meantime, she informed that the partner agencies were “in the middle” of installing flood gates at the Bog Walk Gorge in St. Catherine to protect users of the roadway. “It is a project that should have started some time ago. We are trying to make that happen for this year,” she said.
    Three flood gates will be constructed at Dam Head, Kent Village and Bog Walk, and the project will be undertaken by the Department of Local Government in collaboration with the St. Catherine Parish Council, ODPEM, and the National Works Agency (NWA).
    Speaking at the launch of Disaster Preparedness Month in late April, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government, Robert Montague, said the flood gates should be in place by the start of the hurricane season on June 1 or soon after.
    “We have heard too many times of people being caught in the gorge and emergency calls are out – people are trapped and the water is rising,” Mr. Montague said.
    He also announced another phase of the project, which will involve the installation of video boards with flash warnings to alert motorists when the water in the gorge is at a dangerous level.

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