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JIS News

With Tropical Storm Gustav, set to affect the island in a few hours, Disaster Preparedness committees throughout Western Jamaica have been activated.
The committees have been meeting over the past two days, assessing the situation on a daily basis and fine-tuning plans of action.
Disaster Preparedness Coordinator, with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), in the parish of Westmoreland, Vilma Tate, told JIS News, that the parish is about 65 per cent ready, as a lot of preparatory work has been conducted. She pointed out that a drain-cleaning programme that was carried out by the Parish Council, has seen to most of the drains throughout the parish being cleaned, which will help in preventing flooding in many areas.
She said that approximately 80 emergency shelters and shelter managers for those facilities have been identified throughout the parish and that they are all ready for use if necessary. She added that there are some emergency supplies already in place, and that arrangements have been made with businesses throughout the parish, to supply food items if necessary.
Ms. Tate advised that if persons find it necessary to go to shelters, they should take food and medication (where necessary), to last for at least the first 72 hours.
In St James, Disaster Preparedness Coordinator, Amanda Thompson, explained that that parish is “ready as can be”, as planning meetings were held up to yesterday (Aug. 26).
“Each agency reported that they were more than 80 per cent ready. Two particular agencies that I can single out that are 100 per cent ready, are the hospital and the Public Health Department,” she stated. She added that the National Works Agency (NWA), has also reported readiness for any eventualities.
Emergency shelters and shelter managers have also been identified throughout that parish. Speaking to what preparations are in place for persons living in areas prone to disasters, Mrs. Thompson informed that, “we have been going around to communities and having close-up talks, workshops and community meetings with these persons. And we ask them that just in case we have a situation like a category three or four hurricane coming, they should make sure that they are prepared to move to safer grounds because of the history of their areas.”