Leaving nothing to chance
Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
WITH THE 2012 Atlantic hurricane season looming, residents of St Elizabeth are busily putting disaster-preparation plans in place to minimise the impact should a storm come their way.
Shane Taylor, the disaster coordinator for St Elizabeth, told The Gleaner that his organisation was monitoring several communities and was providing residents with equipment as well as training in disaster management.
Ready for any situation
"New River and Ginger Hill, which are areas which have reported high levels of damage in the past, have been supplied through the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management with emergency-response equipment such as water boots, rain cloaks, crowbars, weed whackers, chainsaws, machetes, and wheelbarrows," said Taylor.
Over the years, St Elizabeth, which is the premier farming area in Jamaica, has consistently suffered extensive flooding because of heavy rains in the hurricane season, which starts on June 1.
During the passage of Tropical Storm Nicole in 2010, several communities were cut off and farms left inundated.
Risk-management strategies are now being worked out as it relates to the current preparation in New River, which is highly susceptible to flooding, as well as other areas such as Ginger Hill and Pisgah, which are vulnerable to landslides.
"For New River, so far they have been part of risk-management strategies in terms of provision of risk-management plans at the community level. They have on-and-off training in terms of initial damage assessment, shelter management, and first aid," Taylor said.
Potential threat to shelter
Taylor also noted that the Goshen area was being closely monitored as sections of the road in that community often became impassable when there was heavy rainfall.
"We're keeping an eye on the Goshen area, which usually has a lot of surface water run-off. It runs off quickly, but given the level of rainfall at certain instances, the road sometimes becomes impassable. There's a shelter (the Goshen Primary School) in that area which is threatened by flooding as it relates to access."
"Given the change in rainfall levels, there has been a problem of waterlogging on part of the access road," continued Taylor. "Right now, it (the shelter) would not be able to be utilised after periods of heavy rainfall. We're looking at the situation to see if there are other shelters nearby which have to be used."
Taylor noted that checks of the parish's emergency shelters would determine whether any of them was in need of assistance.