Dr. Carby urges Jamaicans to use Labour Day Activities as Preparation for Hurricane Season


Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Dr. Barbara Carby is urging Jamaicans to use their Labour Day activities on Monday, May 23 as the springboard for general preparedness activities for the rest of the year.
The Director General’s appeal came against the background of the theme for this year’s Labour Day, ‘Prepare for Disaster Recover Faster’. She said with the approach of the Hurricane Season it was imperative that persons understand the importance of the various aspects of disaster management, which involves preparedness, prevention and mitigation.
Noting the emphasis on drain cleaning this year, Dr. Carby said the undertaking was a worthwhile one as clean drains could either prevent flooding or reduce the level of flooding during periods of heavy rainfall and in the event of a hurricane.
She noted however that the maintenance of drains was not only the responsibility of Parish Councils or the National Works Agency but citizens as well who should refrain from disposing of waste into the island’s drains and gullies.
“If we desist from blocking the drains with waste material then the job of everybody will be made much easier and we can prevent and reduce the flooding,” the ODPEM Director General said. Elaborating, she pointed out that “drains and gullies have been designed to carry the run off from rainfall (and in the event of a blockage with no passage for the water flooding would result)”.
“Unfortunately when it goes over land we are generally talking about impact on people’s homes and people’s businesses and property.Very often it’s not the same persons who are throwing the rubbish in the drain who are becoming affected, it is the other communities that are being affected and we all need to be aware of the fact that proper management of our solid waste can reduce flooding,” she noted.
In terms of further preparations for the Hurricane period Dr. Carby said persons should start preparing their homes and other buildings from as early as January 1 by checking doors, windows and roofs and undertaking maintenance work.
“If persons have not yet started focusing on the hurricane season certainly it’s time to do so now. We have to start thinking about our emergency supplies and nonperishable food items we also have to start storing extra water supplies there was a major problem with water after Ivan so people really must make preparations,” the ODPEM Director urged.
She pointed out that constant preparedness for disasters at anytime is prudent as while “for some hazards like hurricanes (there is a warning period). For others there is no warning period.” Drain cleaning activities are being undertaken in several parishes island wide.
In the meantime aapproximately 453 parish projects have been registered with the Social Development Commission (SDC) for Labour Day. In addition to the cleaning of drains and gullies other activities include repairs to community centres in keeping with the theme.
The national project is the renovation of the Buena Vesta community Centre in Myersville, St. Elizabeth and this is intended to serve as a model for similar facilities across the island. Considerable emphasis has been placed on repairing and renovating these centres so they can be available for use during disaster periods instead of the schools.
Persons wishing to participate in Labour Day activities may contact the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, which is coordinating the efforts, or their Local Parish Disaster Committee at the Parish Council offices island wide.

JIS Social