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Residents of St. Thomas have been urged to take hurricane preparedness seriously, and not to wait until there is a warning before stocking up on essential items.
This advice was given by Parish Disaster Co-ordinator in St. Thomas, Millicent Blake, at a Disaster Management Committee meeting, held on July 9 at the Blumah Palace in Prospect.
Members of the committee, comprising men and women from the district, assist persons in their communities in the event of a disaster and educate them on safety measures to take before and during man-made or natural disasters.
Mrs. Blake told the residents that it was not too late to start purchasing items, such as torch light, disinfectant, kerosene oil, tarpaulin, pampers, soap, tinned foods and other items that might be needed at shelters.
“If you purchase it now and put it down, it will be much cheaper than going to buy it when that hurricane watch is issued. The prices will go up,” she said.
She noted that in recent hurricanes the parish has experienced storm surges along the coastal areas and warned persons that they should be prepared and “to expect the unexpected.”
“This is all about preparation, and yes, we do not have money, but you need to study how you can get through the system, how you can lessen the embarrassment and the effect the emergency situation will have on you,” she said, noting that relief supplies from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) were sometimes inadequate to cater for the large number of persons needing assistance.
Addressing concerns raised at the meeting about the shortage of food supplies at hurricane shelters, Mrs. Blake told the residents that they should utilize the foods grown in their communities and not to wait on relief supplies.
“Those of us living in farming communities, use the food that you have there. Too many of us don’t not eat yam or potatoes anymore and we are not peeling banana, because we have long nails. We’re talking about survival,” she emphasised.
Mrs. Blake also reminded the residents to assist the vulnerable in their communities and to be their brother’s keeper by offering to accommodate the elderly or their relatives in the event of a disaster.
“We should try and be our brother’s keeper. If you can put up an old person or a relative for a short time, then it would be better and safer to do so,” explained.