Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, says the Ministry’s disaster preparedness plans are in high gear, as the country braces for an overly active hurricane season.
“As it stands now, we are beefing up our non-perishable supplies and our meetings continue with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) to ensure the training of (our field personnel),” he informed.
The Minister was addressing journalists on Thursday, June 6, at the weekly Jamaica House press briefing held at the Office of the Prime Minister.
He informed that the Ministry is always ready to work with its various partners, including the Salvation Army, Jamaica Red Cross and ODPEM, to ensure that relief supplies are available to those residents, who have been affected.
“We are also ready to assist with the recovery process as it relates to damage to houses and property,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Meteorological Service is predicting an above average hurricane season, with some 20 storms on the horizon.
Head of the Weather Branch at the Meteorological Service, Evan Thompson, informed that forecasts show a 50 per cent above normal chance for the development of a tropical cyclone this year.
“Normally where we would see about 12 systems developing, this year. We are likely to have as many as 20 tropical storms develop during the hurricane season,” he informed.
Additionally, Mr. Thompson said there is a 100 per cent above normal chance of the development of a major hurricane this season.
“So, whereas we would normally have maybe two to three of the hurricanes developing into major hurricanes – Category three, four or five – this year, we could have as many as six developing,” he said.
Mr. Thompson said there is a very strong likelihood that the Caribbean will be directly impacted by a major hurricane and is therefore urging Jamaicans to ensure that they are properly prepared to mitigate any disaster,” he said.
Last year, which was considered the third most active hurricane season on record, there were some 19 tropical storms. The 2005 season was the most intense season on record, with five of the season’s seven major hurricanes – Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, causing significant damage.
In Jamaica, Hurricane Dennis caused flooding and landslides and severely impacted the agricultural sector and road infrastrucure.
The 2013 hurricane season, which officially began on June 1, ends on November 30.
Contact: Athaliah Reynolds-Baker