JIS News

Story Highlights

  • With the June 1 start of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season only days away, Jamaicans are being urged to use the remaining time to check roofs and other installations and effect the necessary repairs.
  • The appeal comes from President of the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association, Humphrey Taylor.
  • Mr. Taylor suggests that action should also be taken to store a minimum amount of non-perishable food; vital documents should be secured in plastic bags; drains and waterways close to the house should be cleared, and trees should be trimmed.

With the June 1 start of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season only days away, Jamaicans are being urged to use the remaining time to check roofs and other installations and effect the necessary repairs.

The appeal comes from President of the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association, Humphrey Taylor.

Mr. Taylor, a civil engineer by profession, tells JIS News that householders should have already made those checks, but it is not too late to do so.

He points out that the roof of any dwelling or sheltered area is one of the main areas that are susceptible to high winds, so this should be one of the primary areas where checks should be made to ensure that it is secure.

“You should go on the roof and check. Temperature changes can cause the lumber to expand or contract and the zinc nail to be ejected. So, unless you have a roof that uses screws instead of nails, you should go and check. If the nails are backing out you should put in new ones or replace them with screws,” Mr. Taylor recommends.

Hurricane straps should have been installed during the construction phase, but if they are not in place, then an effort should be made to install them.

He says that preparation should also be made for window coverings, and although this could increase the temperature inside during the passage of a hurricane, this would not last for more than a day.

Mr. Taylor suggests that action should also be taken to store a minimum amount of non-perishable food; vital documents should be secured in plastic bags; drains and waterways close to the house should be cleared, and trees should be trimmed.

Another area often overlooked or not addressed with the seriousness it deserves is the protection and movement of livestock to higher ground.

Livestock Specialist with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Maxine Brown, tells JIS News that adequate preparation should be made to secure your animals prior to the onset of any weather system to reduce impact.

Some parishes, she points out, are known to have a higher likelihood of flooding, such as St. Thomas and Portland.

Ms. Brown points out that there is a four-part approach that is used by RADA – mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery – “because you don’t want to wait until the hurricane is near before you start making preparations.”

She suggests that livestock farmers should collaborate with other farmers in areas not known for flooding, usually in higher elevations.

“They could make arrangements to move their animals to that farmer’s property or to a common feeding ground, which is at a higher elevation,” she says.

Ms. Brown says animals should not be tied during a hurricane and they must be removed from riverbeds and large bodies of water.

She further advised that when animal houses are being built, it is important that checks are made to ensure the area is not flood prone.

“Sometimes we say to persons to build trenches around the unit that will lead water away, especially piggery and poultry units. Goat houses should have some elevation. Always tag animals in the event animals get mixed up or are running loose, so they can be identified. Make sure there is clean water and feed for a week,” she advises.

Ms. Brown also notes that farmers should ensure there is an animal first-aid kit handy. This should contain screw worm powder, wound powder, dewormers, antibiotics, rope and a record book.

“If it is a hurricane situation, secure objects that can become projectiles (old zinc and other things that can fly around and hurt the animals). It can be a little difficult for large broiler farmers. If they get flooded out, there’s very little they can do,” she says.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Health is urging persons to ensure there is enough water, food, clothing and emergency supplies to last at least three days in the event of a hurricane.

In the event that persons have to evacuate their homes, they should take prescriptions, medications, first-aid items, disaster supplies, including flashlight, batteries, radio, insect repellent and bottled water to the shelters.

They should also take clothes, sanitary supplies (diapers, toilet tissue, soap, and feminine hygiene products), toothpaste and toothbrush.