Move or we will move you! - ODPEM warns persons living in flood-prone areas
Persons living in flood-prone and low-lying areas who refuse to move in the event of a hurricane are being warned by Major Clive Davis, director general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), that their refusal to leave will trigger their removal by force.
"We prefer to do moral suasion. We want to go in; we want to have the discussions; we want people to know their vulnerabilities; and we want people to get up and move because you could die. If they are not moving, we will have to do it," said Davis.
The ODPEM head told The Gleaner at a Rotary Club of Kingston luncheon meeting yesterday that a law was passed in 2015 that gives him the power to remove citizens under certain conditions such as a hurricane.
"Once a threat is identified [or] is imminent, there are certain conditions that have to be met. There is some information that is passed to the Office of the Prime Minister. Once the prime minister signs off on that, then it gives me, as the director general, powers to then act in a certain manner, and we will do it to save lives," Davis said.
The hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, and Davis said that sensitisation in vulnerable communities had already begun. He pointed to Rocky Point in Clarendon and the Rio Grande Valley in Portland.
"More recently, we have been doing some work in St James, where we find a lot of movement is taking place. There is a lot of rainfall, and the results of the rainfall have not been good, but we have been going in, and we will continue to do that," said Davis.
This year's hurricane season is expected to be above normal, with 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes with category three strength or more.