JIS News

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has launched a hurricane awareness programme targeted at residents in the most vulnerable parishes of St. Thomas, St. James, St. Catherine and Westmoreland.
Director of Communication at the ODPEM, Nadine Newsome, speaking to JIS News at the launch held at the Rudolph Elder Park in Morant Bay on the weekend, said that although there has been some improvement in the level of public awareness, some parishes remained vulnerable, due to their susceptibility to storm surges.
“Hence, as part of our public education strategy, we decided to stage a series of expositions in four of our most vulnerable parishes, so we started in St. Thomas and we’ll be going to Montego Bay in St. James, Spanish Town in St. Catherine and Westmoreland, to prepare the communities to respond should they be impacted by disaster events,” she informed.
The aim of the awareness sessions, Miss Newsome said, was to help residents prepare for hurricanes and to take more seriously, tips and warnings issued.”We have been lucky so far (for the hurricane season), so we’re encouraging persons to be proactive rather than reactive and begin embracing the various programmes before a disaster strikes,” she said.
She pointed out that the intent was not to alarm, but with the approach of the second half of the hurricane season, which was usually more active, residents must be on the alert.
Meanwhile, Miss Newsome noted that even as Jamaicans prepared for hurricanes, they should also plan for other disasters such as earthquakes.
“Earthquakes can happen at anytime and they don’t need or have a season and they occur without warnings unlike hurricanes. Fires and floods are other disaster events that people must also make preparation for,” she pointed out.
“Families must create a plan, businesses, churches, communities and youth groups need to have a plan on how they would respond in the event of an emergency,” she advised.
Miss Newsome invited persons, who wished to get information on how to prepare for disasters, to contact the ODPEM. “We have an excellent library that the general public can come in and use, we have a website or you can just call the office at 928-5111 to 4 and all queries are answered,” she informed.