Street people to get hurricane protection - McKenzie
Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie says his ministry will prioritise the welfare of the nation's homeless population during the 2017 hurricane season and is planning to outfit parish infirmaries as temporary shelters for street people during this period.
In giving the keynote address during a meeting with public relations officers and parish disaster coordinators of the various municipal corporation, at the Hyatt Ziva Hotel, in Montego Bay, St James, earlier this week, McKenzie said the infirmaries to be upgraded would include some, where expansion work has already started.
"There is growing concern about the country's response to the very poor and destitute, those who live on the streets during periods of disaster," said McKenzie. "This year, we are making special arrangements to take many of the people living on the streets into a place where they can wait out these events that are taking place."
According to McKenzie, work has already started on some of the infirmaries to get them into a state of readiness to accommodate the street people, should the need arise.
"We have already started to do work on the infirmaries, and we are building new wards in Manchester, Portland and St James, and we are doing a number of initiatives to upgrade our infirmaries across the country," said McKenzie.
The local government minister also voiced concern about the current location of the St Ann infirmary, which is sited close to the sea and is therefore at significant risk in case of a storm.
"I am concerned about where the St Ann infirmary is, next door to the sea, and I intend to have discussions with the mayor, the disaster coordinator and their team in St Ann, as to what can constitute a suitable location for the patients and staff in St Ann," said McKenzie.
The meeting in Montego Bay was called to discuss the level of islandwide preparation for the 2017 hurricane season, which experts say will be very active.