Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Gov’t to make evacuations mandatory

Published:Wednesday | September 20, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Desmond McKenzie

Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie said the Government will be putting regulations in place to allow for mandatory evacuations in times of natural disaster.

He said the regulations, which are far advanced, will make the Disaster Risk Management Act more effective, particularly in relation to compulsory evacuations from areas deemed vulnerable to severe weather such as hurricanes and tropical storms.

Minister McKenzie was speaking during the sitting of the House of Representatives last week, where he gave an update on Jamaica's assistance with Hurricane Irma relief efforts in the region.

"We are not going to wait. We believe it is important as a Government that we become very proactive, and we must learn from the past. We must take a leaf out of the book of our neighbours. They heeded the warnings (to evacuate), and I can only urge us here in Jamaica to ensure that we take the necessary steps to prevent loss of life in case of any disaster," McKenzie said.

Meanwhile, the local government minister said the Government is strengthening disaster readiness with the acquisition of rescue response equipment, including boats, at a cost of $30 million.

Hurricane Irma, the ninth named hurricane for the 2017 Atlantic season, packing category 5 winds near 185mph, slammed into the island states of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos, Cuba and The Bahamas, leaving 23 dead and thousands homeless.