Disaster Committee Meets


Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has given the assurance that all necessary measures will be put in place to minimize the effects and ensure a quick recovery should the country be impacted by a tropical storm or hurricane during this season.
Addressing this morning’s meeting of the National Disaster Committee at Jamaica House, Mrs. Simpson Miller charged the Committee to direct special attention to the priority concerns of the cleaning of drains and gullies, adequate preparation of shelters, evacuation routes and public education.
The on-going drain cleaning programme will be stepped up ahead of the peak hurricane season with particular attention being given to cleaning the country’s priority drains and gullies, especially those in flood prone areas.
Inspection of the estimated 900 shelters across the island is about 85% complete with over 630 of these shelters already declared as being in a satisfactory condition and fit for use during the season. Parish Disaster Committees have also been mandated to work with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) to update their shelter listings and install the appropriate signs as required.
While mindful of the reluctance on the part of some citizens to leave their homes when evacuation advisories are issued, the Prime Minister said it was particularly important for them to heed such warnings. She said the security forces will endeavor to maintain law and order and security of those communities which have to be evacuated.
For this season also, the assistance of the public bus company will again be used to provide evacuation support to the communities of Portmore, Port Royal and Bull Bay, should the need arise.
Noting that preparation for season was not a “one-sided approach”, the Prime Minister called for a broad consultative approach involving PTAs, churches, schools, media and businesses, working with the National Disaster Committee and relevant agencies to ensure the public is fully prepared “for whatever nature may throw our way during this predicted active hurricane season.”
The prediction is that the 2007 hurricane season will be an active one with between 13 and 17 tropical storms; 7 to 10 hurricanes and between 3 and 5 major hurricanes reaching category 3-5 status.
The meeting was presented with update reports from ODPEM, the Meteorological Service, as well as sub-committee reports dealing with Damage Assessment, Health, Public Education and Emergency Operations.

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