The St. James Municipal Corporation is in a heightened state of readiness for the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane season, which commences on June 1 and runs until November 30.
In an interview with JIS News, Parish Coordinator for Disaster Preparedness, Tamoy Sinclair, said the 65 designated emergency shelters in the parish have been inspected to ensure they are up to standard and shelter managers have been identified.
The inspections were carried out by the St. James Municipal Corporation, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Jamaica Fire Brigade, and the St. James Health Department.
Ms. Sinclair further noted that shelter managers will be engaged in a refresher exercise in short order as the municipal corporation heightens its hurricane-preparedness activities.
“We will be calling a shelter manager meeting the end of this month where the shelter managers will be reminded of their roles, which will be followed by shelter managers training for new volunteers.
“Beginning each hurricane season, we try to identify new shelter managers… to replace those who have migrated from the community, so we have engaged those persons and we would be looking forward to training those individuals,” she explained.
The Disaster Preparedness Coordinator told JIS News that the necessary relief items are being purchased for the shelters. These include mattresses, water boots, raincoats, beds and stoves.
“The Municipal Corporation has already procured several items to facilitate[residents] going into these shelters and of course, to assist persons who would be affected or are likely to be affected in this hurricane season… . We are to receive all of these items in stock before the first of June,” she said.
As it relates to drain cleaning, Ms. Sinclair said that special focus is being placed on flood-prone areas in the parish.
“We have a regular drain-maintenance team here at the Municipal Corporation, which falls within our Roads and Works Department. So, they are out actively cleaning the drains, particularly in the Montego Bay town centre,” she shared.
She said it is anticipated that funding will be provided “to target specific critical drains across the parish”.
Ms. Sinclair said that the Corporation is carrying out a public education campaign in schools and communities to help prepare residents to mitigate disasters.
Forecasters are expecting an “above-average” hurricane season, with experts like the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project predicting 19 named storms and nine hurricanes.