JIS News

Ahead of the peak of the hurricane season, areas prone to flooding are being prioritised as the Government continues drain cleaning activities islandwide.

This exercise is being carried out by the National Works Agency (NWA) and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

This was disclosed by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who noted that while the budget to undertake the exercise is not sufficient, “it is adequately and strategically distributed across the country.”

“Some of it is driven by Members of Parliament selecting the drains based on local knowledge… some of it is directed nationally, particularly at large and important drainage infrastructure, and some of it is directed by the Municipal Corporations,” he said, while addressing the National Disaster Risk Management Council’s recent meeting at the Altamont Court Hotel in Kingston.

Mr. Holness further emphasised that all the agents making decisions regarding the selection of drains and personnel who are going to clear these, as well as the accountability for the use of the earmarked funds, must “put aside political imperatives in the selection of works involved in doing drain cleaning and pay attention to the imperative of ensuring that there is no flooding that could dislocate [persons].”

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said consequent on predictions of an above normal 2022 hurricane season, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and all the other agencies comprising the National Disaster Risk Management Committee must be ready for whatever eventuality may arise.

“Whether [it is a] hurricane, whether it is flooding, which we have had with more frequency, earthquakes or other events, we must be able to respond with utmost urgency and in a coordinated way.

“I am reminding each of us… as the Disaster Risk Management Committee, that it is vital that we are proactive and manage disaster risks, looking out for and mitigating new risks, reducing existing risks and strengthening our overall resilience. I am, therefore, counting on each of you, as important stakeholders and leaders, to play your part to ensure that our internal systems, practices and protocols are in a state of readiness for activation, as needed,” he said.

Mr. Holness emphasised that the ODPEM, which has national responsibility for disaster response, must ensure that adequate relief resources are in place to respond to any eventuality. He further said arrangements must be in place to procure additional supplies.

The Prime Minister also instructed the Committee to ensure the readiness of shelters and their operations for the season.

“The Ministry of Education and Youth should ensure that government schools that have been designated shelters by ODPEM, are open and equipped in a timely manner, where necessary. Each parish disaster committee should work with ODPEM to update their shelter listing,” he said.

Mr. Holness further directed the Committee to organise evacuation routes and prepare for the movement of citizens, if required.

The 2022 hurricane season began on Wednesday June 1. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted a 65 per cent chance of an above normal season.

Skip to content