Government of Jamaica considering mandatory evacuations
The Government is once again toying with the idea of mandatory evacuations as it considers how to protect persons most at risk from the expected heavy rain and strong winds associated with the weather system Tomas.
There is no law which allows for mandatory evacuation, but with the country still reeling from the loss of life associated with the depression that developed into Tropical Storm Nicole, the Bruce Golding administration is desperate to protect people from themselves.
Minister with responsibility for information, Daryl Vaz, yesterday urged persons in flood-prone areas to evacuate, even as he admitted that there was not much the Government could do about persons who refuse to move.
"For tomorrow (today), there may need to be both voluntary and mandatory evacuations," Vaz told journalists at the weekly post-Cabinet media briefing.
"For voluntary evacuations, persons would take themselves to safety. Persons in vulnerable areas who can stay with family and friends are urged to begin those preparations now and arrange to leave before they become high-risk and more vulnerable," Vaz added.
He accepted that persons have been unwilling to leave their premises in the past, which could be an issue this time around.
But Vaz was hopeful that Jamaicans would learn from the lessons of the past and leave the areas at risk.
"I hope, based on the recent Tropical Storm Nicole which should be fresh in our minds, that may hopefully influence those persons who have felt and seen what transpired to make good sense prevail," said Vaz.
"We are going to impose the mandatory evacuation based on the experiences that we have had, but even that will pose its challenges without deciding to bodily move people," added Vaz.
At least 14 persons lost their lives and several buildings were washed away when heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Nicole lashed the island late September.