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Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) with responsibility for Local Government, Robert Montague, has urged Jamaicans to clear homes of garbage and other debris, in order to minimise damage during a hurricane or other natural disaster.
“We need to look around our homes.many of us, during these trying times, don’t want to throw away this piece of zinc (or old) wash pans. We leave…bits and pieces around the home and they become weapons of mass destruction in a 70- mile per hour wind. Those weapons that we have left around our own homes (are the ones that) damage our neighbours buildings,” he pointed out.
The Minister, who was speaking at a hurricane preparedness seminar held at the Courtleigh Auditorium in Kingston today (May 8), encouraged persons to contact the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and make an arrangement “to do a major pick-up so that all the old things (can be properly) disposed of.”
He advised that emergency numbers should be properly displayed for quick access during a disaster. “On your fridge or somewhere prominently, should be some critical phone numbers of the police, hospital, friend or doctor, so that even if you are not at home, somebody can look somewhere quickly,” he said.
He further implored persons to have evacuation plans in place, to remain calm during a disaster and to let “good sense prevail in the end.”
Mr. Montague in the meantime, commended the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) for its role over the years, in preparing Jamaicans for disasters and dealing with the aftermath.
He informed that an allocation has been made in the Budget to purchase a building to house ODPEM, as the building which the agency occupies is “a disaster waiting to happen”.
This new building, he informed, will include additional warehouse space, which will allow the agency to store and secure items.
The seminar was a collaborative effort between ODPEM and Digicel and formed part of a series of activities in observance of Hurricane Preparedness Month in May .The Hurricane Season is from June 1 to November 30.