All Category 1 Hurricane Shelters will be opened from 5:30 p.m. today to accommodate persons seeking refuge ahead of the passage of Tropical Storm Elsa.
Acting Chief Education Officer, Joy Adamson, made the announcement during a press conference called this afternoon to update the country on the national storm preparations.
She said shelter preparations were near completion, with storm shutters being installed, and diesel tanks being filled at those facilities with generators.
The education official also reminded persons of the need to safeguard their personal effects and property, before travelling to a shelter.
“We always encourage persons to go to family first, but if you don’t have any family or friends that you can stay with, we would advise you to report to the shelter. Before you leave home, fill any containers with water that you want; shut off your water, electricity, gas; lock all your windows and doors,” Mrs. Adamson advised, urging persons to secure their valuables and important documents, such as their driver’s licence and insurance policies.
In addition, she appealed to persons to make the necessary arrangements to safeguard their pets, since animals were not allowed at the facilities.
The Acting Chief Education Officer also urged those going to shelters to ensure that they travel with their medications, extra clothing and personal hygiene items, face masks, hand sanitiser, as well as entertainment pieces (toys, books, etc.), especially for small children.
“We are recommending that you have at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water, if you’re going into the shelter. We will try to, wherever possible, to assist persons after the event, but we would want persons to at least walk with some amount of food because we wouldn’t be serving [food] before the event,” she stressed.
All persons entering shelters will be registered, and the established COVID-19 protocols will be enforced, with temperature checks and hand sanitisation being done on arrival.
“Please follow the direction of the shelter manager. As it relates to where families can stay in clusters, we want to at least maintain that six feet in distancing in designated spaces within the shelter. You must be wearing your mask at all times in the shelter and there should be no large gatherings,” Mrs. Adamson emphasised.
There are a total of 33 category one shelters, comprising 20 public and 13 privately-owned buildings.
The shelters located in Christ Church are: Blackman and Gollop Primary, Christ Church Foundation, St. Christopher Primary, and Dunamis Outreach Ministries of the Weslyan Holiness Church, all of which are accessible by wheelchair users, and Gordon Walters Primary.
The two Category 1 shelters in St. George are Cuthbert Moore Primary and Ellerton Weslyan Holiness Church, both are wheelchair friendly. Residents in St. James may seek shelter at Gordon Greenidge Primary and Queen’s College, which can be accessed by wheelchair users, and the Church of God Orange Hill.
Persons in St. John may go to the Lodge School; while those in St. Joseph may access the Tamarind Hall Library located in the Eric Holder Municipal Complex. The shelters in St. Peter are the Coleridge and Parry School and Roland Edwards Primary. These are all wheelchair-friendly facilities.
Meanwhile, the shelters in St. Michael are: Combermere School, Ellerslie Secondary School, Harrison College, the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Parkinson Memorial, Faith Wesleyan Holiness Church, and St. Barnabas Day Care Centre. The University of the West Indies, Black Rock Seventh Day Adventist Church and the Dalkeith Methodist Church, also in St. Michael, have wheelchair access.
In St. Philip, persons may go to Six Roads Church of Christ and the Six Roads Seventh Day Adventist Church. The other shelters are Hilda Skeene Primary and Ruby Church of the Nazarene, which can accommodate wheelchair users.
The Connell Town Pentecostal House of Prayer and the William Donald George Parish Centre (St. Lucy Parish Church), located in St. Lucy, and the Hillaby Seventh Day Adventist Church in St. Andrew are all wheelchair-friendly facilities.
Those located in St. Thomas are Hillaby/Turners Hall Primary and the Lester Vaughan School.
The public has been advised that Category 1 shelters are used during a disaster or hazard event, while those classified as Category 2 may be opened after the danger has passed.