Officials of the St. Ann and Trelawny Municipal Corporations say preparations are in place to mitigate the impact of potential natural disasters, including floods and hurricanes.
They note that even before the start of the hurricane season in June, “problem areas” were identified where various measures, such as the cleaning of drains and gullies, were carried out.
“If we learnt anything from the hurricanes that battered several Caribbean islands last year is how vulnerable the region, including Jamaica, is to natural disasters,” said Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay, His Worship Michael Belnavis, in an interview with JIS News.
“There is no such thing as being overly prepared because one never knows, especially as we are now in the peak of the hurricane season, when a sudden disaster will strike,” he added.
Mr. Belnavis said in order to mitigate the impact of any disaster, they have to collaborate with local agencies, such as the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and the Jamaica Red Cross.
He also noted that it is the job of the St. Ann Municipal Corporation to address “all aspects” of man-made and natural disasters, such as earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes and freak storms.
Over in Trelawny, Mayor of Falmouth, His Worship Colin Gager, said the Municipal Corporation also works with its Disaster Committee to develop plans to mitigate against disasters.
Councillor Gager said there are some flood prone areas in the parish that require special attention and that there is also collaboration with ODPEM to get the parish in a state of readiness.
“A lot of work has been put into enhancing our readiness for disasters, including hurricanes. We feel satisfied that we have been putting things in place and that we are ready to assist our people in the event of a hurricane, which is usually accompanied by flooding,” he said.
For his part, Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, said the Ministry has been meeting regularly with the Municipal Corporations across the island since the start of the hurricane season and has been stressing the need for preparedness.
“We are in the peak of the hurricane season and we just have to prepare ourselves as best as possible for all eventualities,” the Minister told JIS News.