NEAR-NORMAL HURRICANE SEASON EXPECTED BUT MINISTER, DEM URGE PREPAREDNESS
By Anesta Henry
Even though an average 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season has been predicted, Minister of Home Affairs and Information Wilfred Abrahams is calling on Barbadians to ensure that their homes and surroundings are in a state of readiness.
Delivering remarks at a press conference on Wednesday to mark the start of the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season at the District Emergency Management (DEM), Warrens, St Michael headquarters, Abrahams called on citizens to carry out their household checks and community planning in order to reduce the impact of any hazards.
“This will include ensuring that your houses and your homes are in a position to withstand an event. We implore you to retrofit your homes as required. Clean up around your homes, and check the status of your insurance policies. If the insurance is not valid at the time of the event, you cannot claim after,” Abrahams said.
“Ensure that all your family members and persons within your care know what to do if they are impacted. The time of the event is not the time to figure out what to do, we need to know beforehand to ensure that all of those for whom we have a responsibility know what to do if we are impacted.”
The hurricane season starts on June 1 and ends on November 30.
Acting Director of the Barbados Meteorological Services, Brian Murray, said that based on recent projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there will be between 12 to 17 named storms of which nine will become hurricanes and “one to four will become major hurricanes”.
“In a nutshell, it is going to be a near-normal season, just like last year. Luckily, no system has formed yet, but as I said, there are some times when you have a system forming outside the hurricane season. One did form outside the hurricane season, but it has not been named because that was in January this year,” Murray said.
Minister Abrahams said Barbadians should not be complacent.
“We could have the lowest, slowest hurricane season in the history of hurricane seasons, but if one hurricane forms and impacts us, that is one too many. Prepare yourself in the same way that we are preparing ourselves. We are doing our part Barbados, but you also must do your part to protect yourself, your family and your community,” Abrahams urged.
He also appealed to civic-minded persons to volunteer their services to one of the 30 District Emergency Organisations (DEOs) and other community response agencies, which play a significant role in the event of an unfavourable weather system impacting the island this season.
The minister said that training and skills development opportunities were available for persons who join DEOs.
DEM Director Kerry Hinds, disclosed that 30 Category One and 59 Category Two emergency shelters across the island have been approved for the 2023 hurricane season.
She encouraged members of the public to use the shelters as a last resort.
“It is a public good for the Government to ensure that there are shelters available for those who need them, but your home should be your shelter. And as the minister would have indicated, it is important that you retrofit your homes. It is important that you see your home not only as an investment, but as your shelter,” Hinds added.