Hurricane season is upon us and persons are encouraged to know their nearest emergency shelter. To determine the closest shelter, you may access the emergency shelters list for 2017 by downloading the booklet Shelters here, or from the Department of Emergency Management‘s (DEM) website.
Most primary and secondary schools are on the list and are registered showing how many persons can be accommodated, the availability of a water tank and specifics related to shelter wardens.
There are 12 shelters equipped with bathrooms which can be accessed by the physically challenged, particularly those using wheelchairs.
Category 1 Shelters for Physically Challenged Persons
St. Michael – Dalkeith Methodist Church
Christ Church – Blackman and Gollop Primary
St. George – Cuthbert Moore Primary
St. James – Gordon Greenidge Primary
St. Peter – Coleridge and Parry School and Roland Edwards Primary.
Category 2 Shelters for Physically Challenged Persons
St. Michael – St. Leonard’s Boys’ School and The University of the West Indies
Christ Church – St. Matthias Anglican Church
St. James – West Terrace Primary School
St. Joseph – St. Bernard’s Primary
St. Peter – Alexandra School
St. Lucy – Daryll Jordan Secondary School.
Persons who may be required to seek refuge in shelters are reminded that they do so at their own risk, as no guarantee can be given that any building will remain standing or be habitable after a devastating hurricane, other hazard or disaster. To this end, persons are advised to remain in their own houses, or to seek refuge in the homes of friends or relatives or in neighbouring buildings considered “structurally sound”.
In the booklet, Chief Shelter Warden and Chief Education Officer, Karen Best, states: “If you plan to remain at home, a strong room, preferably located in the middle of the house, should be chosen. Persons are however advised to prepare emergency kits in case they have to leave their homes. Non-perishable food items should be included to last for at least three days.”
Within the Emergency Sheltering section, individuals are advised not to seek refuge in a shelter unless notified by authorities that it has been officially opened. They are also encouraged to listen for evacuation advice and leave promptly when advised by authorities to do so. This segment also warns that pets, weapons, alcoholic beverages and narcotics will not be allowed in a shelter, and cigarettes or cigar smoking will not be permitted.
The shelters booklet provides worthwhile information on what to do “before you leave home” as well as “when you are leaving home”. On the whole, it is full of information – from what to place in your disaster kit, what to take to the shelter and even what to do with your pet. Moreover, for those seeking to learn the glossary of terms related to hurricanes, the material is appropriately placed at the end.
Given all that is contained in the booklet/online and with the DEM continuing to warn against complacency, it is only wise that citizens and businesses heed the advice and begin contemplating their own shelter readiness and options.