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JIS News

The St. Thomas and St. Catherine parish councils have activated their emergency disaster plans to protect lives and property against the possible effects of Tropical Depression Tomas.
While the weather system has been downgraded from a hurricane, the Meteorological Service has warned that it could re-strengthen as it moves close to Jamaica, which means that storm conditions, including heavy rains and wind, could affect sections of the island. The rains could begin as early as Wednesday evening.
Mayor of Spanish Town, Dr. Andrew Wheatley, told JIS News that preparedness in St. Catherine “are at a peak”.
He said that an emergency meeting of the disaster management and planning committee was held on November 2 where “we looked at the level of preparedness in terms of shelters, because this time around, we are looking to put in place the necessary supplies before the need arises, such as food and bedding.”
He informed that an emergency evacuation system has also been implemented for the removal of persons in low-laying or flood-prone areas, with the Jamaica Urban Transport Corporation (JUTC) to assist in the process. In addition, tractors and heavy-duty trucks are in place to clear any landslides so that people can have easy access to and out of communities.
“So, I believe (we are) in a very good position and its all systems go should the need arise,” he stated.
Mayor Wheatley issued a call for persons in known danger areas to take the necessary steps to secure themselves and their property and to call the parish council for further assistance.
Over in St. Thomas, Mayor of Morant Bay, Hanif Brown, told JIS News that the parish’s emergency plans were “reviewed and tightened” at a meeting on Tuesday. He said the council will be working with a number of stakeholders in preparing for the weather system.
“We’ve already looked at the infirmary and have put some measures in place to ensure that we have proper storage of water and as an emergency shelter,” he said.
Mayor Brown informed that a number of major drains were cleaned over the last six months, which will help alleviate flooding. As it relates to the road network, he said there are a number of “bad spots” which are of concern, but noted that the National Works Agency (NWA) has assured that enough equipment have been identified and put on standby for use if the need arises.