Ahead of the June 1 official start of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season, forecasters are predicting a below average season.
However, Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson, is warning nationals not to become complacent.
Addressing reporters at the agency’s headquarters at Lower Estate, St Michael, Jackson said forecasters were “looking at a 70 per cent chance of an expected below average hurricane season, with “roughly around 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes”.
Stressing the need for vigilance, Jackson said: “What CDEMA wants to advise the public across the region is not to treat the prediction as a reason for complacency. We have seen in previous years forecasts where the forecasters have been there or there-abouts. It must be remembered that we have evidence where there have been wild variations around what has been forecast.
“We have to recognise that it only takes one tropical disturbance to cause significant damage to our already fragile eco-systems, our already fragile economies which are centred around coastlines and settlements that are very much based along waterways. One tropical disturbance can lead to significant loss of lives and damage to local economies,” Jackson added.
The CDEMA head reminded that unseasonable rainfall in St Vincent and the Grenadines during December 2013 led to a loss of 15 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He further recalled that in Jamaica there was an average of between 2.5 to 2.7 per cent loss in the country’s GDP over a ten year period when there was no direct impact from hurricanes but mere passages of the eye of the hurricane, grazing the coastline.
Earlier, Jackson disclosed that the Country Direct Fund, which benefited from 1.7 million Euros (Bds$3.7 million) from the European Union was launched in early May and will close in 2019.
He further disclosed that it will be administered in a series of calls for proposals from the member states of the regional agency to access the funds in the amount of 60 000 euros (Bds$131,646) per call per successful country.
“The funding will be supporting priorities that have been identified by the member states through the country centred programme activities which CDEMA conducted with them. The programmes will be in the area of preparedness, response and community capacity strenghtening as well as in information technology. The member states are eligible for all of the calls. They are looking at potentially nine tranches between now and 2019,” Jackson explained.