With projections for an above average hurricane season and the provision of a supplemental list of hurricane names this year, residents across Barbados are encouraged to not only get ready, but to remain ready for any eventuality.
Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, has warned that with the predictions, there is no room for complacency this hurricane season.
“We can’t just get ready for June 1st and then stop and relax because we are ready. We have to get ready, and remain ready, and adjust our readiness pattern to everything that develops.
“From the beginning of the season until the end of the season, we have to be in a state of heightened and constant readiness,” he stated.
He gave this advice during his address at the annual 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season press conference at the Department of Emergency Management’s Warrens, St. Michael headquarters, this morning.
The Minister stated that while almost every year Barbados was spared the worst of natural disasters that devastated other countries, the reality was that each year the odds of Barbados being impacted by a significant weather event were “greater and greater”.
Mr. Abrahams noted that Barbados was in a constant state of response, having to deal with various hazards for an extended time.
“From the beginning of the season until the end of the season, we have to be in a state of heightened and constant readiness.”Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams
“To ensure national level operational readiness to respond to hazard events that we may experience in this 2021 hurricane season, the Government, through the National Emergency Management System, continues to undertake our preparedness, readiness and coordination activities,” he said, noting that those plans took the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic into consideration.
The Minister said Government’s preparedness efforts included the refining and synchronising of plans at the national level to upgrade critical infrastructure to make the country more resilient to hazards.
In addition, it involved training and sensitising emergency response teams; conducting preparedness actions, such as cleaning waterways and drains; trimming foliage; undertaking flood mitigation works and readying shelters.
Mr. Abrahams added that Government also interfaced with regional and international stakeholders like the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, the Regional Security System and the United Nations to ensure they were available to support a national level response, if required.
Noting that the 30 District Emergency Organisations and community organisations were also in a state of readiness, Mr. Abrahams said this was critical to the recovery of the country, post disaster.
“We call on you the citizens to carry out your individual, household and community planning and to prepare yourselves in an attempt to reduce any impact that the hazard may have on your community….
“By mounting a coherent, collective and cohesive community response, this goes a long way in assisting communities and by extension the country when recovering quickly from any impact,” Mr. Abrahams pointed out.
This was supported by Director of the Department of Emergency Management, Kerry Hinds, who stressed the importance of collaboration and partnerships as being critical in the preparation, response and recovery from hazard events that may cause displacements of residents and visitors, communities, businesses and the economy.
“It is recognised that Government cannot manage emergencies or disasters without the support of partners in the private sector, non-governmental organisations, community groups, faith-based organisations and the general public. Hence, partnerships and collaborations are a necessary feature in ensuring national readiness and preparedness,” Ms. Hind said.
She welcomed the Barbados Cricket Association for coming onboard with the DEM this year, to contribute to the national readiness effort.
Both the Minister and the Director gave the public the assurance that they would be provided with information throughout the season to assist with their preparedness and response efforts.
Ms. Hinds noted that the DEM would be rolling out its public awareness programme with a heightened online presence, featuring activities targeted at various groups in society under the theme Be Storm Ready – Prepare and Be Aware.