We are ready for the hurricane season – McKenzie
Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie has said that the shelters across the island are in an advanced state of readiness.
Following a two-week tour of a number of the facilities, the minister said that the municipal corporations through the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management are actively engaged in the preparatory process for the hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.
McKenzie, who toured five designated shelters across several constituencies in Manchester last Friday, said that all designated facilities have been given the green light by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
“I am satisfied with the state of readiness. Everything is in place. We are only hoping that there will be no need for us to activate these facilities, but if we do, again, I am giving the assurance that we are in a state of readiness for the hurricane season,” said McKenzie.
CRITERIA FOR APPROVAL
In order to become a designated shelter approved by the health ministry, McKenzie said that an isolation area must be available.
With more than 150 shelters across the parish, Acting Parish Disaster Coordinator at the Manchester Municipal Corporation, Keval Lewis, confirmed that only 66 are on the official list for 2021.
“All official shelters are in a state of readiness. We have shelter managers in place for approximately 90 per cent of them. There are shelter managers that are still in need of training, and that will be arranged next month,” Lewis said.
He noted that the average shelter can house anywhere between 10 to well over 60 individuals, all while maintaining the COVID-19 protocols of physical distancing.
Lewis said that adversely affected individuals would receive assistance – food, tarpaulins and rebuilding – through the corporation and the ministry if the need arose.
With a number of shelters operating out of schools, churches, and community centres, McKenzie said that there are sufficient shelters, official and unofficial, across the island, to meet the possible demands of the population.
Member of Parliament for North East Manchester Audley Shaw reported that in addition to the six designated shelters in the constituency, Christiana High, Devon Primary and Mizpah Primary schools would be assessed and possibly retrofitted for shelter use.
For information on the shelter nearest to you visit https://www.odpem.org.jm/shelters/.