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JIS News

The St. Thomas Parish Council is proposing the establishment of a central emergency shelter for the parish.
Head of the St. Thomas Parish Council, Mayor Joan Spencer, told JIS News that the Council will be writing to Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller as well asthe relevant agencies, including the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), outlining the proposal.
According to Mayor Spencer, a dedicated parish shelter would reduce the need to use schools as emergency shelters for extended periods. “You have persons, who are going into the schools and they vandalise them but if we have a parish shelter, those persons would go into the shelter. So we will be writing to ODPEM and central government to see how best we can formulate this,” she said.
Secretary Manager of the Parish Council, Clinton Gordon, noted that “purpose built” facilities would be beneficial in times of an emergency. “So you can equip them with water, food, blankets and bedding so when persons go to a shelter, there are things there for them already and there would be no need to move (school furniture) around,” he said.
He noted further that “each time you go to a shelter you face a repair bill because people do not always take care of the facility and it’s a challenge to get the principal to allow use of the school the next time”.
According to Mr. Gordon, “once the (parish shelter) is established, people can be moved there. Kingston has people moved from all over by JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Company) buses from Portmore to the National Stadium so it shouldn’t be hard to move people from Yallahs to Morant Bay.”
The Secretary Manager noted that once the centre is established and the basic amenities are in place, then adequate planning and preparation for hurricanes can be done.