As the 2015 Atlantic season got off to a quiet start yesterday, Acting Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) Kerry Hinds urged residents to be prepared despite predictions of below normal activity.
She made the call this morning during the DEM’s annual press conference to mark the start of Hurricane Awareness Month, being celebrated under the theme Keeping in touch with our Communities.
“I am encouraging the public not to be complacent, as one event making landfall can seriously disrupt life in Barbados, causing damage, displacement and significant downtime, which have a crippling effect on our economy,” she warned.
“That is why it is critical to have a comprehensive approach to the management and the effects of these hazards on our country.”
Stressing that the concept of comprehensive disaster management was a shared responsibility, Hinds challenged individuals, householders, business owners, and other organizations to recognize the value of such an approach.
“We all have a part to play in assisting in reducing our vulnerabilities to these hazards. It is not the function of Government alone . . . We need to be proactive. Investing in planning and preparedness can significantly reduce the after effects or the impacts of these hazard events,” she maintained.
Deputy Director of the Barbados Meteorological Service Sonia Nurse said the forecast for the season, which was updated today, gave a projection for eight named storms – three of which are likely to become hurricanes – and one major hurricane.
She joined calls for residents not to become complacent, reminding them that despite last year’s below average forecast, the season still produced systems like Bertha and Gonzalo, which caused power outages, structural damage, mud slides, collapsed roads and deaths across the region.
“That demonstrates why we should not focus on numbers and why we should continue to prepare for any eventuality. This would involve obtaining basic emergency supplies, carrying out any necessary repairs to property, and listening to forecasts on a regular basis as issued by the Barbados Meteorological Services,” she stressed.