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Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government Reform, Hon. Robert Montague, has said that three new floodgates are to be constructed in the Bog Walk Gorge, St. Catherine, to assist in curtailing the loss of lives during heavy rains.
The Minister, who was speaking at a press conference in observance of May as Hurricane Preparedness Month, at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Kingston, on Wednesday (April 28), said that the floodgates will be constructed at a cost of $100 million and form part of a two-phase mitigation strategy.
The floodgates will be constructed at Dam Head, Kent Village and Bog Walk, and will be undertaken by the Department of Local Government partnering with the St. Catherine Parish Council, ODPEM and the National Works Agency (NWA).
“We are hoping in phase two of the project to put in video boards, so that persons can flash warning signs to motorists. We also will be hoping to use those video boards to flash the identification of missing children,” he added.
The Director General said that the floodgates should be ready before the start of the hurricane season, in June or shortly after.
In the meantime, he noted that a new assessment methodology for damage in communities will be undertaken.
“We have established shelter committees in most of our shelters across the island, and the parish coordinators and the Councils are actively completing the lists. The purpose of that is to provide a convenient place in the community where persons who would have suffered damage can go and report their damage, immediately,” he said.
This will also enable the relevant stakeholders to do their assessment, while minimizing fictitious claims which may come forward. In addition, he said that the needs listing, regarding damage assessment, will be prioritized to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable are addressed swiftly.
Priority will be given to persons who, in the best of times, the state has to give a helping hand. So persons on PATH (Programme of Advancement through Health and Education), the pauper list and on some form of state intervention programme to keep them going in the best of times, will be dealt with first.
“The Government believes that these are the persons that need a helping hand during disasters and, therefore, whatever limited resources that will be made available during hurricane recovery, these are the persons that will be prioritized,” Mr. Montague said.
The 2010 North Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, is expected to be an active one with predictions for eight hurricanes with four of them to be intense.