Government has plans to increase the number of hurricane shelters available to the public in order to maintain social distancing protocols as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic when the 2020 hurricane season draws near.
This was disclosed by Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson, as he urged residents to begin their preparations for the 2020 Hurricane Season, which officially starts on June 1.
“We have already increased the number of hurricane shelters and plan to increase that number even more, because with social distancing [protocols], not as many people will be allowed to go into hurricane shelters that would have gone in them last year,” he said.
He noted that Government implemented measures to improve the infrastructure in hurricane shelters, their water storage capacity, and ensured that there were adequate shutters, in the event that they had to be activated.
In that vein, the Minister appealed to residents to “do as much as possible” to prepare for this year’s hurricane season, which is predicted to be an active one.
“We have already increased the number of hurricane shelters and plan to increase that number even more, because with social distancing [protocols], not as many people will be allowed to go into hurricane shelters that would have gone in them last year.”Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson
Mr. Hinkson cautioned that everyone had a duty to ensure that their personal properties and immediate surroundings were as clean and clear as possible from debris, and as secure as possible in the event of adverse weather conditions.
“The hardware stores are open to sell building equipment and building supplies which can be used to fix parts of your home to ensure that it can withstand adverse weather conditions,” he said.
The Minister noted that Government had taken the lead over the last two years in cleaning up hazardous areas and districts across Barbados to buttress the island’s resilience to hurricanes and other adverse weather conditions.
“We have increased the generational capacity at our utility companies. We have improved on the water storage capacity of key institutions and ensured that institutions have a five-day water supply, in the event that the water is cut off,” he said.
At the same time, Mr. Hinkson urged those with the financial means to ensure that their homes were comprehensively insured.
However, he pointed out that Government was fully aware that a number of people were now under severe economic pressure, having lost their jobs over the last two months as a result of measures implemented to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Government of Barbados will work with you to ensure that you are as safe and secure as possible during this hurricane season,” he said.
He noted that Government, through the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) and the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, had sought to build resilience at the community level against disasters.
Mr. Hinkson said that it allowed them to improve the functionality of the District Emergency Organizations (DEOs) and to easily identify the most vulnerable in society, and their susceptibility to disasters before and after a system passed.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on all able bodied persons who are not members of DEOs to join and participate in the programmes and projects,” he said, stressing that their country needed them at this time now more than ever.
Persons interested in joining the DEO may do so by calling the DEM at 438-7575, and express their interest.