Jamaica: Plans in place to deal with tropical storm Dennis

KINGSTON (JIS), Thursday, July 07, 2005 - All the necessary plans have been put in place as Jamaica braces itself for a possible hit from Tropical Storm Dennis, which is expected to pass over the island on the north eastern section by as early as 5:00 a.m. on Thursday morning (July 7).

This was the report from representatives of various ministries and agencies, who met with the Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sports, Portia Simpson-Miller at an emergency meeting today (July 6), to discuss the island's preparedness, in the event that the storm hits the island.

The Minister, who is in charge of the Government, emphasized that, "we are taking no chances as we need to make the necessary preparation for homes and families".

Mrs. Simpson-Miller also announced that all emergency shelters would be opened immediately, to facilitate those persons who needed to be relocated.

She used the opportunity to appeal to those persons who might need to use churches, schools, and other public buildings as shelters, to desist from undignified behaviour. "For the sake of the country and our children, please behave with the dignity befitting the Jamaican people," she said.

A centre will be opened at the Ministry of Local Government and would be manned throughout the passage of the storm, to co-ordinate efforts between all other relevant ministries and agencies.

Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Dr. Barbara Carby, said the agency was on full alert to deal with any emergency, and would be providing timely information to members of the public about the storm and what action to taken to protect themselves and their property.

Dr. Marion Bullock Ducasse, Director of Emergency Management Services in the Ministry of Health, said the necessary contingencies have been put in place in readiness for Tropical Storm Dennis. She said patients who could be discharged from hospitals would be sent home to make space for any emergencies. The necessary supplies have been put together, with parish stores being replenished at the local level.

The Police also reported that they were prepared to deal with any looting and vandalism, which might occur during and after a natural disaster, and that there was a 70 per cent reliability of the communication system, with back-up power supply at all 16 sites.

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) is also well advanced in their preparation with soldiers expected to be in place before and after the passage of the storm.