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  • The Government, through the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), is ensuring that the country is prepared for the 2015 hurricane season.
  • The Minister was speaking at the launch of Disaster Preparedness Month 2015 held on June 2, at the ODPEM headquarters in Kingston.
  • ODPEM has been actively working to ensure that the disaster mitigation and emergency response framework is in place for the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott says the Government, through the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), is ensuring that the country is prepared for the 2015 hurricane season.

“We are (all) fully aware of our geographic location and that it makes us vulnerable to hurricanes and other natural disasters. While this cannot be remedied, we can take precautionary measures, which will help to minimise damage should a natural disaster strike,” he said.

The Minister was speaking at the launch of Disaster Preparedness Month 2015 held on June 2, at the ODPEM headquarters in Kingston.

ODPEM has been actively working to ensure that the disaster mitigation and emergency response framework is in place for the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.

While the Meteorological Service is forecasting “less than average activity” for Jamaica, ODPEM is ensuring that the country is prepared for any eventuality.

The agency’s Director General, Major Clive Davis, said as part of the preparedness measures, ODPEM is spearheading planning and coordination activities with various national emergency agencies.

Among these are the island-wide network of Parish Disaster Committees (PDCs), the Jamaica Fire Brigade, the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA).

The activities include inspection and structural improvement of shelters across the island, as well as the stocking and equipping of these facilities, and measures to prevent landslides. The ODPEM is also actively engaged in developing and testing disaster preparedness plans and mapping out evacuation routes.

Also being undertaken are public education and disaster response training to equip persons with the skills to effectively respond to emergencies within their communities.

Major Davis stressed the importance of building emergency response capacity at the parish level, stating that the collective ability of each parish to respond to disaster will greatly increase the nation’s ability to manage and to quickly recover from catastrophic events.

“A parish must be able to respond. There are (many) things that could happen in those hours or days before aid can get to (people) and so we have to build the resilience at the parish level to get the desired results,” he stressed.

ODPEM has also taken into consideration the needs of persons, who are physically challenged. The Naggo Head Emergency Shelter in Portmore was recently retrofitted with ramps, while doors and bathroom facilities were modified to accommodate persons with various physical challenges.

Meanwhile, Minister Arscott informed that there is a national drain cleaning programme underway to clear gullies across the island of debris that may cause flooding.

He urged citizens to pay attention to weather reports, and news bulletins during the hurricane season.