All shutdowns of Barbados in the event of severe weather systems, and any subsequent all clears, will be given by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) based in the Department of Emergency Management (DEM).

This was asserted today by Director of the DEM, Judy Thomas, during a press conference to mark the start of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane season at the Department???s Warrens, St. Michael, headquarters.

Ms. Thomas stated that Cabinet had agreed to a revised national shutdown procedure to guarantee a systematic closure of the country in the event of severe weather.?????The NEOC will issue the shutdown and they will issue the reactivation. It will be given in a situation where it will be a warning mechanism for every single person or every single corporate entity to activate their systems,??? she said.

She explained this was done to address concerns about the all clear – when work should resume and when the country would be reactivated after the system???s passage. ???We have ensured that in the new policy which would be widely circulated that that aspect has been laid to rest,??? she said.

Ms. Thomas said the function of the NEOC was to activate the warning system, but stressed that the onus was on individuals, homeowners, communities and corporate entities to create their own procedures.?????If you have no procedures then you will be scrambling to effect things you should have done prior, you would be scrambling when the event is on??? We expect you to use the warning system to start your own level of responses???,??? the Director indicated.

The issue of national, corporate and community preparedness, she stressed, was therefore vital as it was tied to the warning mechanism. ???Shared responsibility for national preparedness is something I want to re-emphasise. It is not a DEM total responsibility. Everyone is expected to play their part and then it redounds to the national capacity,??? she stated.

Ms. Thomas added that with a quiet season being projected, the DEM will be spending the time reviewing its procedures to see how it can develop new mechanisms and how others can be maintained.??Nine storms, three hurricanes and one major hurricane are predicted for this hurricane season, which officially got under way on Sunday, June 1, and runs until November 30.

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