The list originates from the booklet known as Shelters, and is produced by the Media Resource Department of the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation for the DEM.
It is updated to facilitate communication in times of disaster, and in addition to listing the shelters, it contains the relevant information of those to be contacted in case of an emergency. These include the chief shelter warden as well as the Director of DEM.
According to the booklet, shelter facilities are mainly schools and churches located across the island and are listed in two categories. Category One Shelters are those facilities which may be used during a hurricane or other hazard event, while Category Two Shelters are those which may be used if they are still in a reasonable condition following the occurrence of a hazard event or disaster.
In the booklet, Chief Shelter Warden, Karen Best, who is also the Chief Education Officer, expresses the hope that Barbados will again be spared the ravages of a hurricane or a disaster, and advises the public that the document should be easily accessible and “kept as a constant companion in case a disaster strikes on some unexpected occasion”.
Mrs. Best stresses in her foreword that persons who seek refuge in shelters 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.
She also points out that it is for this reason, persons are advised to remain in their own houses or seek refuge in the homes of friends or relatives or in neighbouring buildings considered to be structurally sound.
“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,” Mrs. Best added.
The efforts of those who volunteer each year are commended in the booklet. In particular, kudos go to those who render national service as senior wardens, deputy senior wardens and emergency senior wardens as well as those who assist with the work of the DEM as individuals, members of District Emergency Organisations or any other agencies.
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.
The emergency shelters also take into consideration the needs of the disabled, with 12 of them equipped with bathrooms allowing access by the physically challenged, particularly those using wheelchairs.
With respect to Category One type shelters, these can be found in St. Michael at the Dalkeith Methodist Church; in Christ Church at Blackman and Gollop Primary; in St. George at Cuthbert Moore Primary; in St. James at Gordon Greenidge Primary; and in St. Peter at Coleridge and Parry School and Roland Edwards Primary.
Category Two facilities for the physically challenged are: in St. Michael, at the St. Leonard’s Boys’ School and The University of the West Indies; in Christ Church at the St. Matthias Anglican Church; in St. James at West Terrace Primary School; in St. Peter at the Alexandra School; and in St. Lucy at the Daryll Jordan Secondary School.
With the Meteorological Department continuing to warn against complacency, it may be wise for all citizens and businesses to begin contemplating their own shelter readiness and options at this time.
Individuals seeking to determine the nearest shelter in their community should access the information from the abovementioned websites, and pay close attention to information placed by reputable sources on the internet, on the radio/television, as well as in the print media, throughout the hurricane season.