Schools, churches, and commercial buildings are often used as emergency shelters and these buildings must always be readily available in the event of a sudden disaster. This is why the local government must ensure that infrastructure is in good condition and disaster relief protocols are in place. The Minister of Local Government and Community Development is now visiting shelters to assess readiness in the case of a natural disaster.
“The Prime Minister has given specific instructions that we must look at shelters and make an adjustment to shelters because what we are doing now is to look at classrooms to see where we can put persons who are in the age group that is vulnerable,” said the Local Government and Community Development minister. Desmond Mckenzie. “We have found dome locations here in Portland as it is a parish that suffers severely whenever we have any major weather event.”
The local government ministry is also looking to create isolation areas due to the Covid-19 factor. A similar programme was carried out in the parish of Clarendon.
“Down on the South coast of Clarendon we retrofitted a shelter there and put in a container for the storage and up in the Frankfield area of Clarendon, that is the northern side,” he added. “We are going to be doing that here in Portland and hopefully we can get this done before we get deeper into the Hurricane season.”
The Parish coordinator for disaster preparedness in Portland, Denise Lewis, says the upgrade to shelters is timely in light of past experiences with hurricanes. Families are often displaced.
“Oftentimes they are marooned. For example, Bellevue can be cut off for days to include Moore Town where the road is blocked and Comfort Castle that is often impacted by flooding. So, it is important as it relates to having emergency supplies stored.”