Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, (left) briefing the public on Tropical Storm Elsa. Also pictured are Director of the Department of Emergency Management, Kerri Hinds; and Acting Senior Superintendent, John Boyce. (A. Reid/BGIS)

An urgent appeal is going out to residents across Barbados to seek shelter now if they believe their homes may be compromised.

Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, made an impassioned plea tonight, as Barbados continues to brace itself for the impact of Tropical Storm Elsa.

He also made the appeal against the backdrop of the Barbados Meteorological Services’ warning of an early band of fairly strong wind and rain which was expected to begin affecting the island from as early as 1:00 a.m.

“This is the last chance. I am asking all those Barbadians who are not certain about… the integrity of your house, or where you are, please make your way to the shelters, as quickly as possible.

“The shelters are ready and open to receive you; they are expecting you, and they are aware that I am making this appeal,” Minister Abrahams said, noting there were already 26 people seeking shelter.

Speaking from the National Emergency Operations Centre at the Department of Emergency Management in Warrens, the Minister also warned persons whose homes were affected by the June 17 severe weather event, and still had tarpaulin on their roofs, that it was not safe for them to be there.

“Please make your way to a shelter. Quite frankly, if you live in an old house, and your house is falling down, please make your way to the shelter. This is about you. This is about your safety. Please, once we are feeling the full impact of the storm, the emergency services will have to suspend their services until it is safe to do so,” he stressed.

Members of the National Emergency Operations Centre in discussion before the briefing. (A. Reid/BGIS)

Mr. Abrahams cautioned persons that if they remained in their homes and something happened, no one could come to their rescue until it was safe.

“So, your safety is now your responsibility. We made this plea from earlier this afternoon, and we are making it again for the last time. You know a band is supposed to start to affect us from about one o’clock. There are emergency shelters in every parish; and you were made aware of the shelters, please pick the shelter closest to you and if you need to, make your way there.

“They will process you quickly and admit you into the shelter quickly. Barbados… we can build back a house [but] we can’t replace a life. We can replace all material things [but] we cannot replace a life. Our first concern is for your safety, your first concern must be for your safety, as well,” he urged.

The Minister also advised those who were not a part of the emergency services to stay off the roads at this time.

In an earlier update, acting Director of the MET Office, Sabu Best, indicated that the weather system had slowed down in speed and was intensifying, while remaining on course to affect Barbados.

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