JIS News

Director of the National Meteorological Service, Sylvia McGill, has said that the agency is prepared for the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which is expected to be average to above average.
“We are prepared for the season. We have a well established warning system, and we depend on the media, when we issue the bulletins, to bring this to the public and to increase the frequency as the system gets closer to the island,” Mrs. McGill said.
She was speaking at a press conference held at Jamaica House Monday (June 1) to launch Disaster Preparedness Month. It was organised by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).
Mrs. McGill said that an average season is for 10 systems to develop – six turning into hurricanes and two into intense storms.
She said that for this season, the latest forecast coming from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States, May 21, is that out of the 9-14 systems foreseen, four to seven are expected to become hurricanes, and one to three major hurricanes of category three level and above.
The Director noted that this forecast does not affect the level of preparedness of the agency, as whether the season is forecasted to be above or below normal, its preparedness must be commensurate with any season.
Disaster Preparedness Month is being observed under the theme: ‘Disasters are Becoming More Intense. Staying Prepared Makes Common Sense!’
Programmes and activities for Disaster Preparedness Month, include Disaster Preparedness Day in Schools, which entails a Disaster Preparedness Month Cultural Exchange.
This involves several schools expressing through cultural items in dance, drama, song and poetry, Jamaica’s vulnerability to particular natural and man-made hazards, and how to better prepare for them.
The cultural exchange will be held on Thursday, June 4, at the Mandeville Seventh Day Adventist Church, 13 Caledonia Road, Mandeville, Manchester, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
There is also a culinary competition which usually takes place every other year, during June. For this year, high school students in Hanover and Westmoreland will create and present original dishes that may be prepared during disaster events using non-perishable items.
The competition will take place on Friday, June 12 at the St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 26 Lewis Street, Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland. Additionally, the annual Hurricane Preparedness Expo will be held on Sunday, June 27 at the Portmore Mall, St. Catherine.
Sponsors for Disaster Preparedness Month are: T. Geddes Grant Distributors Ltd., Jamaica Biscuit Company Ltd., and NCB Foundation.

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