The Government is sharpening its focus to create the infrastructure for a more disaster-resilient country, even as Jamaica prepares for the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
“Government is preparing and applying the resources to ensure that our infrastructure is at a certain level that it can withstand any disaster,” said Honourable Minister Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Local Government and Community Development.
“We have to be ready to easily identify the factors that affect our economy, one way or the other such as a healthy or educates population of a country. One of the less-mentioned factors in the society is the connection between a disaster-resilient country and its economic growth and development.”
He was speaking at the launch of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) National Hurricane Preparedness Campaign at Jamaica House on June 8, 2018.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year.
The Minister stressed that citizens must also be active participants and complement the work of the Government in its improvement efforts to mitigate against the effects of disasters. He disclosed that significant amounts of money are spent on clean up and recovery efforts following the passage of storms and hurricanes.
“Over the last year, the rains that we have experienced have created more pressure on Government resources, it is estimated that over $6 billion was incurred on the country,” he added.
“The way we trim our trees, the way we dispose of our garbage, storing cement, sand, gravel and blocks on our roadways; cutting down the hillside to build houses, cutting down the hillsides to plant coffee, to burn coal are areas that have affected us as a country. These are areas where we must start to ensure that we put in the process of mitigation because we cannot depend on Government alone to do it.”
Director of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica, Mr. Evan Thompson, shared that the 2018 hurricane season is expected to be active with 10 to 16 tropical storms, between five to nine hurricanes and one to four major hurricanes in the strength of a category three and above.
“We present our warnings by the electronic and print media, the forecasts are sent to the media every day,” he said. Members of the public may also dial 116 for the latest recorded message or visit the social media pages of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica at www.metservice.gov.jm.
Minister McKenzie also encouraged citizens to heed the disaster warnings especially those for evacuation as their obstinacy puts their lives and those of first responders at risk.
He noted that aspects of the Disaster Risk Management Act, that seeks to strengthen the country’s overall national disaster preparedness and emergency management through a range of measures, will be enforced.
“We are looking at certain other regulations to strengthen the Act, but the Act as it presently stands, can be enforced and it will be this year.”