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Emergency centre on alert

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Emergency centre on alert

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AS A RESULT of Tropical Storm Chantal, the National Emergency Operation Centre of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) was activated last night at 9:30.
The announcement was made by deputy director Kerry Hinds as she spoke to the media yesterday morning, following a meeting of emergency response agencies at the DEM’s Warrens, St Michael headquarters.
She also announced that Category 1 shelters were opened from 6 p.m. and the last Transport Board buses were scheduled to leave terminals at 9 p.m.
Hinds said that the air and sea ports would remain open on the assessment of management officials.
The Barbados Light & Power indicated that it would not shut down electricity unless it saw the need to do so.
The Meteorological Department said the country was today expected to experience moderate to heavy showers, thunderstorms, storm force winds, swelling seas and potential flooding.
Acting director of meteorological services Hampden Lovell said that the centre of the storm was likely to pass around 8 a.m. today, less than 50 miles to the north of Barbados. However, the early effects of Chantal should have been felt overnight.
He warned: “If and when the system passes people should not see it as a chance to go on the streets and wander about, but to batten down and keep themselves safe.
“You are having some strong winds coming from the west and that is kind of stopping it from getting compact and hence from developing. That along with the speed that it is travelling is going to take it fairly fast through the air.
“Also a plus for us is the time that we should start feeling it, just after midnight, we would think that most people would be indoors by then. If there is any strengthening, it would be slight threatening,” Lovell said.
Hinds said that Barbadians would have benefited from a public awareness campaign last month, when they were encouraged to be prepared for the hurricane season.
 “People were purchasing very few items this morning . . . but hopefully would have done their preparations all along,” she added.
 “We usually advocate that the public shelters are a last resort, we ask persons to shelter with family and friends first and foremost but if they find that they have to utilize the shelters they are there for them to use.
“We would have done an assessment earlier in the years and based on that assessment we would have come up with 28 Category 1 shelters,” Hinds said. (AH)