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JIS News

With the 2006 hurricane season just seven days away, the Portmore Municipal Council has accelerated preparedness activities, with focus being placed on trouble spots.
“We have begun to clean the drains, and there are some very challenging ones,” Mayor George Lee told JIS News.He said that funds have been requested from the Ministry of Local Government and Environment to assist the process “because Portmore has an inordinate amount of drains and there’s no way the Council will have the money to clean all the drains at one time”.
The Mayor informed that focus was being given to three critical drains in the communities of Waterford, Bridgeport and Two East. “We just completed a tender process to choose a contractor for the drain in Waterford and work should begin shortly as instructions have been given to start,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Lee informed that the Jamaica Red Cross was assisting the Council to look at disaster mitigation, including shelter management and ensuring that shelter managers were in place.
He said that come next week, the Council would be evaluating all shelters, including schools, to ensure that they were in a state of readiness. “We’ll also be meeting with the National Water Commission, the National Works Agency and various other agencies to work out the strategies that will be employed during the period,” he told JIS News.
On the matter of evacuation, the Mayor noted that the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) had crafted a mass migration plan for residents of the municipality, “but because of the impact of Hurricane Ivan, we asked ODPEM to upgrade the plan”.
“This is being done and there’s a consultant now in the island from the International Development Bank (IDB) helping to develop some changes. One such change is instead of getting everybody out of Portmore, we look at some higher ground and develop an evacuation strategy, depending on the extent of the storm,” he told JIS News.
The Mayor said that even as the Council puts its preparedness mechanism in place, residents must take precautions to protect their lives and properties.
He noted that community meetings were held recently to discuss disaster preparedness and these would be stepped up over the coming weeks. “We are making the necessary plans in the event of a hurricane to make certain that all the critical areas are addressed,” he stated.
The 2006 hurricane season officially begins on June 1.