The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane season has opened with renewed calls for Barbadians to be prepared and not be complacent.
The reminder that “it only takes one major event making landfall to significantly impact the island” was again emphasised by Acting Deputy Director of the Department of Emergency Management, Captain Robert Harewood.
Speaking during the Department’s annual press conference at its Warrens, St. Michael location today, Captain Harewood said that one of the major challenges facing Barbados was the level of complacency about the threat of a hurricane.
“I want to encourage people to recognise that it would only take one event to impact us. Preparedness starts at the individual level and we need people to understand that they each have a major role to play,” he emphasised.
Noting that historically Barbados was spared from the devastating impacts of tropical weather systems in the past, Captain Harewood called on residents to remember with trepidation the damage and displacement left in the wake of Tropical Storms Emily in 1987; Lili in 2002; Ivan in 2004 and Tomas in 2010, along with numerous flooding events which collectively impacted over 5,000 people.
“It is therefore important for all of us as individuals, businesses and Government entities, to recognise the particular hazard vulnerabilities within our scope and the value of the Comprehensive Disaster Management approach in treating to them.
“We all have a role to play in reducing those vulnerabilities and ensuring that we are adequately prepared for, and can respond to their impacts,” he stated.
Captain Harewood stressed that Barbados’ social, physical and economic development should strengthen the need for residents to make their communities more resilient, particularly as the island prepared to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
He also noted that the Department was continuing its drive to implement the Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme, which encourages partnerships and cooperation among public and private sector entities, non-governmental organisations and communities, in mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery for all types of hazards.
Meanwhile, Acting Deputy Director of the Barbados Meteorological Service, Sonia Nurse, said though the season started today, two systems had already passed – Alex in January and Bonnie last week.
Adding that there were other “out of season” developments in previous years, she said: “We urge people to prepare for the hurricane season as usual. Listen to the weather reports and don’t be complacent.” She also encouraged residents to protect their properties by getting the necessary insurance.
DEM is hosting a range of activities during the month of June to highlight the hurricane hazard under the theme: The Next 50 Years: Making Our Communities Resilient to Natural Hazards.