BRIDGETOWN: The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Management Agency (CDEMA) has urged residents of the Caribbean to be prepared for an active hurricane season, which officially began on June 1.
Noted hurricane forecasters Dr William Gray and Philip Klotzbach of the Colorado State University have predicted an above-average season, with 18 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes likely to occur during the six-month period.
The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting between 13 to 20 named storms, six to 11 hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes.
CDEMA executive director, Ronald Jackson, said these predictions are well above the season averages.
“The message is clear,” said Jackson. “The extent to which we could be impacted will depend on the level of investment we put into preparing for and preventing as best as possible the negative consequences of this hazard. We are advocating that there be significant efforts taken to boost sector level, business, family and individual readiness, a message being promoted by the national authorities. In this regard I wish to commend the many NDMAs (National Disaster Management Agencies) which have initiated their national campaigns.”
Jackson, former head of Jamaica’s Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), took over the operations of CDEMA last month, replacing Jeremy Collymore. He said that several initiatives have been taken to bolster operational readiness at the national and regional levels.
“The regional level readiness has been built on the readiness for all hazards concept,” said Jackson. “We have revised the regional co-ordination plan elaborating more clearly the roles of our sub-regional country focal points and the mechanisms for activating their sub-regional coordination centres. We have also conducted and scheduled exercises which will test key aspects of the regional readiness. Training and equipping of our CARICOM Disaster Relief Unit has also taken place through support from the U.S. Southern Command thereby sharpening the tip of the spear of our response architecture.”
The CDEMA official stressed that disaster preparedness does not begin on June 1 and he called for greater regional and national investment in comprehensive disaster management.