Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says 98 per cent of emergency shelters in Western Jamaica are ready to protect and care for displaced Jamaicans in the event of a disaster.
Following tours of shelters in Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth on Thursday (July 15) and Friday (July 16), respectively, the Minister told journalists that the facilities he visited have largely met the requirements stipulated by his Ministry, the Health and Wellness Ministry, and the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB).
“We are seeing a great deal of support and I want to commend the schools, the principals, and the administrative staff of the various schools, not just in Western Jamaica, but in the other parishes we have visited over the last six weeks,” Mr. McKenzie said.
“I want to commend the mayors and teams, and the disaster coordinators. Of the 14 Municipalities that we have, they have done an exceptional job,” he added.
The Minister indicated that with the shelters ready for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season and other disasters, the Government will be intensifying its public education campaign.
He said this will be done through the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and other local authorities to sensitise residents on the necessary actions to be taken when confronted by a disaster.
In the meantime, Mr. McKenzie said St. Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) is the designated shelter for the parish, noting that the institution will be used to house residents in the nearby St. Elizabeth Infirmary in case of a disaster and they are displaced.
For his part, ODPEM’s Acting Director General, Richard Thompson, said the disaster preparedness team within the western region must be commended for their hard work in getting the country ready for the hurricane season.
He said Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth have carried out extensive work in their respective shelters.
“We have over 867 shelters in our country and extensive work would have gone into preparing for this hurricane season. One of the major things we want to highlight to the general public is that when persons are displaced and have to use shelters, that they protect the facilities that they are using,” Mr. Thompson said.
For her part, Parish Coordinator for Disaster Preparedness at the St. Elizabeth Municipal Corporation, Ornella Lewis, lauded the Ministry as well as ODPEM, the Municipality, and the other entities for getting the parish in a state of readiness.
“We have been doing some activities to ensure that our preparedness is heightened and a few of the activities that we have done is to ensure that all our shelters have been marked, so community persons can be aware of where they should go in the eventuality that the shelter is required by them,” Ms. Lewis explained.
WRITTEN BY: OKOYE HENRY
Source: JIS News