Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie is reporting that emergency shelters across the island are in a state of readiness, for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
Mr. McKenzie was speaking to reporters at the Buff Bay High School, in Portland on June 11.
The Minister informed that having visited Hanover recently, and now facilities in Portland, he is “more than satisfied” that the shelters are prepared for the hurricane season.
“Portland is one of the five priority parishes, when it comes on to disaster preparedness. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and the local authorities, have been working assiduously to ensure that our shelters are in a state of readiness,” he said.
Minister McKenzie, who visited several of Portland’s emergency shelters, described the areas that are earmarked at the Buff Bay High School, for emergency use, as “exceptional”.
He said over the next few weeks, he and other stakeholders, will be visiting other shelters across the island.
“The shelters are equipped, and will be able to accept persons if it becomes necessary, and it is the responsibility of every Jamaican, during this period to pay close attention to the warnings, reading the bulletins [issued] by ODPEM, especially in Portland, a parish that is prone to flooding,” the Minister said.
Mr. McKenzie further informed that, arrangements have been made for all Mayors to ensure that transportation is provided for persons who may need to evacuate their communities, and go to a shelter.
“I urge Jamaicans to take heed if and when a warning comes,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mayor of Port Antonio, Paul Thompson, said the visit to the shelters were in an effort to be “proactive” noting that the isolation area at the Buff Bay High School, is ideal for social distancing.
For her part, Principal of the school, Sandra Buchanan, said her staff is prepared to assist persons, if they are required to be in the shelter, adding that “we have everything in in place, in case there is a disaster”.
The 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season started on June 1 and will end on November 30.