The town of Port Maria, St. Mary will receive a $17 million Tsunami Early Warning System during the 2023/2024 fiscal year.
“The ODPEM (Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management) will collaborate with the National Works Agency, the Meteorological Service of Jamaica and the Water Resources Authority of Jamaica to implement the System,” announced Honourable Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Local Government and Community Development, during his 2023 Sectoral Presentation in Gordon House last month.
“In addition to the siren that would be triggered when waters exceed a prescribed level, the System will produce data that will ultimately help to produce a Flood Prediction Model.”
Last January, Port Maria was almost submerged after heavy rains pelted the eastern parish and left more than 800 households and businesses of various sizes affected.
“I stated in my last presentation that the town would be next in line for a Tsunami Early Warning System, following its implementation in Old Harbour Bay (St. Catherine). I am pleased to announce that an additional $17 million has been allocated to the Ministry to provide this System for Port Maria,” Minister McKenzie stated.
The Tsunami Early Warning System will complement the Community Flood Alert Systems Improvement Project – a mechanism developed to inform people in flood-prone areas that flooding is possible or imminent. When a threat occurs, the System gives an alarm so that preventative action can be taken.
During the last financial year, Flood Alert Systems were implemented at Benson Ford in St. Andrew, and Aenon Town and Alley in Clarendon.
The first phase of the project involved the erection of public education and flood warning signs. Community flood gauges showing the movement of water levels and stages of danger were installed at Thatchwalk Bridge in Aenon Town and Alley Bridge. Traffic control gates are also being built at Alley Bridge.
The ODPEM held consultations with the residents of these communities and Community Emergency Response Teams were formed.
The final phase of the project involved the installation of remote flood monitoring and automation systems that were recently completed to coincide with the June 1 start of the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
“Through the use of sensors that will be attached to the bridges, a Real Time Remote Flood Monitoring System will collect data and transmit text messages and email to all stakeholders, so they can make informed and rapid decisions. This real time alert system will also feature horns and lights, so that people in these vulnerable areas can hear and see that danger is at hand,” added the Minister.
The ODPEM’s capacity to provide relief supplies will be expanded by an extra $17m. Emergency storage facilities in the ODPEM’s Eastern and Western Regions Work will be rehabilitated with a further $10m.
“Overall, an additional $50 million has been allocated to this critical institution, to ensure total readiness for natural and man-made disasters, including the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season.”