JIS News

Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government Reform, Hon. Robert Montague, is urging all Jamaicans to take necessary precautions, especially in vulnerable areas, to ensure safety in the event of hurricanes or other natural disasters.
The 2010 North Atlantic Hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, is expected to be an active one with predictions for eight hurricanes, with four of them intense.
Speaking at a press conference observing May as Hurricane Preparedness Month, at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Kingston, on Thursday (April 29), he noted that early preparation is of utmost importance in the event that a natural disaster strikes.
Reemphasising some of the preparedness tips, the Minister encouraged individuals to: know their home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind; locate the safest area in the house from each hazard; develop a disaster plan for the family; know where the nearest hurricane shelter is and map the routes to get there.
He further encouraged persons to adhere to warnings about evacuation and have emergency telephone numbers ready.
“A lot of persons rely on the centralised 119 or 110, but they do not know the number of their local police station or fire station or even hospital. Get to know the local numbers, because the centralised numbers are answered in Kingston,” he warned.
He further implored persons to have evacuation plans in place, to remain calm during a disaster and to let good sense prevail in the end.
Mr. Montague encouraged persons to make sure that drains and gullies are cleaned, adding that the Parish Councils are partnering with ODPEM to serve notices on builders who dump building materials in drains and leave them.
“If you are going to build, you should know where you are going to be storing your building materials and the roadway is not a storage facility,” he emphasised.
“Cut back trees which may overhang your house; stock up on non-perishable foods; have flashlights, candles, and matches in storage; have at least one week’s supply of medication ready; listen to your transistor radio and keep spare batteries on hand,” he encouraged.
He noted that, even as Jamaicans prepare for hurricanes, they should also plan for other disasters such as earthquakes which can occur at any time.
The Minister commended the ODPEM for its role, over the years, in preparing Jamaicans for disasters and dealing with the aftermath.
The initiative aims to heighten national awareness of the need for adequate preparations by individuals, to effectively deal with dislocations resulting from the onset of severe weather during the six-month North Atlantic hurricane season, June 1 to November 30.

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