Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson is asking Barbadians not to allow the COVID-19 pandemic to stop them from preparing their homes and surroundings for the 2020 hurricane season.
Hinkson said that while many Barbadians are struggling to cope with the difficulties associated with the COVID-19 health crisis, which has evolved into severe economic challenges, the country must prepare for the hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.
It is being predicted that this year’s hurricane season will be above normal.
The Minister made the plea for people to take responsibility for their hurricane preparedness this morning as he delivered remarks at the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Press Conference. It was held at the General Post Office, Cheapside, St Michael.
He said while the residents of a country cannot stop a hurricane from visiting their shores, they can do their best to lessen the impact of the system and put measures in place for the aftermath.
“We have to therefore prepare. We have no choice, COVID-19 or no COVID-19, but to do our best as a country at the level of our Government, which we are doing and which we will continue to for our community, our family and our individual persons to prepare for any eventualities in terms of the possibility of the advent of hurricanes affecting our Barbados and the wider region this year.
“All of the predictions are for an above average hurricane season and of course a forecast is just what it is, but life is a question of averages of possibilities and probabilities and I would want us as a people to err on side of caution,” he said.
Minister Hinkson said Government was currently employing the resources of all private and public sector agencies to ensure the island is fully prepared as it relates to putting relevant infrastructure in place and maintaining adequate supplies.
He said to avoid the issue of flooding, authorities will see to it that gullies are cleared to prevent blockages of water courses and drains. But at the same time, Hinkson said Barbadians must stop the habit of dumping garbage in gullies across the island.
“That obviously interferes with the natural water courses and has been the main reason if not the only reason why when you do that in the Whim gully, down in St Peter, Speightstown and other places has flooded people’s houses with water up to the roof,” he said.
At least 18 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes have been predicted for the season because of warmer seas and favourable weather patterns. Two systems have already passed.
Also speaking at the press conference, Acting Director of the Barbados Meteorological Service, Sabu Best, said the MET office has improved its early warning systems to give Barbadians a better chance to prepare and an advanced idea of what to expect.
Meanwhile, Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) Kerry Hinds said households and businesses must have emergency plans in place for their homes and office spaces.
Hinds said because DEM is always mindful of the safety of emergency health responders and the public, the Department is currently in the process of retooling and refining its plans and procedures under the guidance of the Ministry of Health in order to incorporate considerations that a COVID-19 environment warrants.
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