Despite predictions of below normal activity for the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season, residents are being urged to adopt a proactive approach to comprehensive disaster management.

Acting Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Kerry Hinds, made this call today during the annual press conference at the DEM???s Warrens, St. Michael, headquarters to mark the start of Hurricane Awareness Month.

The theme of the month is: 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,??? Ms. Hinds warned.

The Acting Director explained that over the years, significant investments were made in the island???s physical development, property and economy. However, she stressed, any impact of a hazard, be it an earthquake, hurricane, storm or tsunami, could have great potential for damage or disruption of services and economic activity.

???That it why it is critical to have a comprehensive approach to the management and the effects of these hazards on our country,??? she pointed out.??Stressing that the concept of comprehensive disaster management was a shared responsibility, Ms. Hinds stated that her department continued to promote this approach.

She urged individuals, householders, business owners, and members of communities and organisations to recognise 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 were likely to become hurricanes – and one major hurricane.

However, Ms. Nurse joined calls for residents not to become complacent, reminding them that last year???s below average forecast resulted in systems such as 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.

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