Jamaica prepares for Hurricane Matthew
KINGSTON – Jamaica’s emergency management agency started deploying supplies to shelters yesterday as Hurricane Matthew gained strength while churning across the warm waters of the central Caribbean, resulting in the Meteorological Service labelling the cyclone “extremely dangerous” and placing the island under a hurricane watch.
“This means that the following dangerous effects of a hurricane are expected to affect Jamaica by Monday:
• Dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves, even though winds expected may be less than hurricane force;
• Average winds 64 knots (118 km/h) or higher,” the Met Service said in its 8:00 pm bulletin.
Yesterday, Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie said that the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) had already been deploying the necessary items to shelters islandwide.
“These items include generators, tarpaulin, blankets, water containers, and other such items that are going to be required,” McKenzie told journalists at a press conference at ODPEM headquarters in Kingston.
McKenzie said that effective today, the national operation will be going 24 hours, while the Ministry of Local Government will be operating a centre that will work directly with parish councils to get information.
“There are some toll-free numbers that will be made available for the public,” McKenzie said.
At the same time, he said that concerns have been raised about the more than 2 000 homeless people islandwide and that measures are in place to get them off the streets and into shelters.
McKenzie urged citizens to comply with evacuation notices and said that transportation would be in place to take people to shelters.
“We are putting in place all the necessary arrangements so that we can respond to the needs. We know the critical areas in Jamaica, places like Rocky Point, Port Royal, New Haven, Taylor Lands, we know these critical areas across the country… All shelters, across the country will come into operation by tomorrow (today). All shelters will be provided with the necessary resources,” he added.
Yesterday, when the Jamaica Observer visited a number of supermarkets and hardware stores in the Corporate Area people were stocking up on emergency supplies.
“I am just doing my monthly shopping. I bought extra batteries, matches, more canned goods than normal and extra juices and water,” said attorney Harrington Dermot, who was seen paying for his groceries in Brooklyn Supermarket, Twin Gates Plaza.
Another shopper, Wilfred Hermitt, said: “I am always prepared from the perspective that I usually have the basic things, rain or shine. As a former Boys’ Brigade we have to prepare, we will not be caught flat-footed.” (Observer)