Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Ronald Jackson, said on November 3, that his office could begin recommending voluntary evacuation for persons in flood prone areas as soon as this evening.
He was addressing a press conference called to discuss evacuation procedures and the opening of shelters, in light of Tropical Depression Tomas, at the ODPEM in Kingston.
“Voluntary evacuation is persons taking themselves to safety. It is not a system. It is where you examine your own threats and begin to move early, because the state’s resources are not going to be widely available to move every single Jamaican that is at risk, so we are asking some persons to begin to initiate their own voluntary processes,” Mr. Jackson explained.
Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, Ronald Jackson (left), greets Assistant Superintendent of Police, Clifford Blake, at a press conference at the office of the ODPEM in New Kingston, today (November 3). The press conference was called to discuss evacuation procedures and the opening of emergency shelters in light of the impending storm.
He said people who should consider evacuation are those in low-lying areas, coastal areas and other areas of high vulnerability.
Mr. Jackson said the ODPEM may later consider mandatory evacuation, but made it clear it did not mean “forced evacuation.” He said mandatory evacuation would occur in communities where evacuation is absolutely necessary to ensure that lives are saved, based on the trajectory of the storm. He said in such cases the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) would assist with evacuations.
Supervisor, Route and Systems Planning at the JUTC, Vivienne Davis-Campbell, said the JUTC has set aside 14 buses from its Rockfort Centre, 10 from Portmore, 14 from Spanish Town and five from Half-Way Tree, to help with the evacuations.
The ODPEM Head said priority areas included communities such as Bushy Park and Tredegar Park in St. Catherine; Rocky Point and Portland Cottage in Clarendon; August Town and Bull Bay in Kingston and St. Andrew; Troy and Wakefield in Trelawny; Bamboo and Chigwell in Hanover; and Hagley Gap and Llandewey in St. Thomas. Mr. Jackson said a full list of the priority areas will be disseminated via its website and the media.
He said the focus for assisted evacuation were sections of Portmore, Port Royal, Chigwell, Tavern, Kintyre, Forrest, Pierce’s Village and New Market. He said that for areas such as Chigwell, the ODPEM was sourcing boats to help with evacuation since that community is already flooded.
Mr. Jackson noted that persons would be housed at the emergency shelters and would be provided with enough rations to last two days, as well as a cot and blanket. He said shelter guidelines would be provided for all individuals, and security personnel would be visiting all shelters. He said that persons with contagious illnesses would be isolated.
“We want to ensure that there is a safe environment for all persons that are there. There will be zero tolerance to the breaking of these policies. Lawlessness will not be tolerated in the facility,” he warned. Mr. Jackson reminded that no pets, weapons, smoking or alcohol will be allowed in the shelters.