Press conference with Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and officials from the Department of Emergency Management. (PMO)

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has described Tropical Storm Elsa as a “threat to Barbados” and urged Barbadians to be prepared for the cyclone, which should begin affecting the country early Friday morning.

Ms. Mottley made the comments this afternoon as she addressed a press conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, where she and Government officials brought the country up-to-date about the storm.

The Prime Minister told the country: “Any system as you know, historically, that is to our south, is always a system that we should take very, very seriously…. This storm is a threat to Barbados. We will pray; we will do whatever is necessary and we will hope as well. But hope and prayer at this stage still does not remove from us the obligation of getting ready, of protecting lives and of protecting property….

“We hope that there will be no further strengthening.  But I’m also here to tell you that I’ve been around long enough to know that those things can happen too, and therefore Barbadians need to stay glued to all official forms of communication.”

Ms. Mottley appealed to Barbadians whose homes are vulnerable, including those living in the 165 houses, which were recently impacted by the freak event, to seek shelter from the impending storm.

“That is why we’ve gone to great detail to be able to ensure that the shelters are there. If you have family that you can go by, by all means that’s the best place to be. But if you don’t have family who can accommodate you, or if their houses are at risk too, then I really suggest that you make use of the shelters that we have,” she pleaded.

And, for those persons who seem to get a thrill from travelling around in bad weather, the Prime Minister warned them to desist from this dangerous and deadly practice.

“The officials will take a very, very dim view of people who want to go joy riding in the middle of the storm because you are putting other people’s lives at risk. People who want to go joy riding will know that they will face the consequences because you are placing other people’s lives at risk to save yours or to save others whose lives may be affected because of your reckless actions….

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley speaking at a press conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre today. She was joined by Attorney General, Dale Marshall (left) and Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

“Trust me, anything that you want to see, there’s more than enough footage on YouTube for storms that went before.  I’m sure that there would be more cameras looking out the windows taking shots, as happened with the freak storm the other day. But stay in your house, please, or stay in your shelter,” she insisted.

Ms. Mottley said systems had been put in place in the event that there was a shutdown of the island’s telecommunications. She explained that Barbados would still have the capacity to access the outside world through a limited number of satellite phones.

She added that arrangements had also been put in place for the Embassy at Washington, and the High Commission in the United Kingdom to be immediately available in the event of any issues.  She disclosed that a similar measure would probably be put in place for CARICOM and those details would be forthcoming.

The Prime Minister pointed out that if the island was not seriously impacted by the storm, then travellers would still be able to leave on Saturday and Sunday. She noted that the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Health were working to ensure those persons could receive their COVID-19 tests.

“The [Best-dos Santos Public Health] lab will close tonight from 9:00 until early tomorrow afternoon….  It does mean that those persons who do not need classic PCR tests are obviously more easily accommodated because some countries do accept (rapid) antigen…but there are some countries, I believe Canada is the main one now that requires classic PCR,” she explained.

Ms. Mottley urged persons to look around their homes for anything that could become a missile during the storm and seek to secure it now.

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