Thu | Jun 30, 2022

65 emergency shelters approved in St James ahead of hurricane season

Published:Monday | May 23, 2022 | 12:08 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer


WITH 65 emergency shelters already inspected and signed off as fit for purpose, the St James Municipal Corporation is reporting that it is in a heightened state of readiness to mitigate disaster in the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Last month, the University of Arizona issued its seasonal prediction for the June 1-November 30 hurricane season as slightly above average, with 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes, with an accumulated cyclone energy index of 129 units.

A multiagency government team from the St James Municipal Corporation, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and the Jamaica Fire Brigade inspected and approved the emergency shelters.

“All the shelters have been inspected and shelter managers for these facilities have been identified,” said Tamoy Sinclair, parish disaster preparedness coordinator at the St James Municipal Corporation.

She gave that assurance while speaking with The Gleaner recently at an awards ceremony for the corporation’s 14th annual Disaster Preparedness Performing Arts competition for primary schools.

“We will be calling a shelter managers’ meeting at the end of this month where the shelter managers will be reminded of their roles, which will be followed by shelter managers’ training for new volunteers,” said Sinclair.

According to the disaster preparedness coordinator, at the beginning of each hurricane season, officials try to identify new shelter managers to replace those who have migrated from communities. Training sessions are being planned.

The procurement of critical relief items for shelters, such as stoves, mattresses, raincoats, and water boots, has already been completed and will be in place before the start of the hurricane season.

“The municipal corporation has already procured several items to facilitate going into these shelters, and, of course, to assist persons who would be affected or are likely to be affected,” Sinclair said.

Strategic drain-cleaning exercises, Sinclair said, are being conducted to mitigate against flooding. She said that drain-cleaning funding for 17 municipal divisions will be provided by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

Despite the corporation’s preparedness, the disaster coordinator is appealing to residents, especially those living and working in flood-prone communities, to follow all warnings for relocation should that become necessary.

Sinclair is also urging residents to contact the disaster unit of the corporation to identify shelter sites.