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2021 Hurricane Projections Has SKN Disaster Management Mechanisms in “A State of Preparedness”

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): With the update from the Colorado State University on July 9, which forecasts an increase in the number of named storms from 17 to 20 and the number of hurricanes from eight to nine, the Nevis Disaster Management Committee (NDMC) is preparing its various disaster mechanisms on Nevis.

The peak of the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season approaches, and during the sitting of the Nevis Island Assembly on July 13, 2021, Deputy Premier Hon. Alexis Jeffers, Minister responsible for Disaster Management in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), gave some details about the level of preparedness at the government and agency levels.

“The [Nevis Disaster Management Department] NDMD staff has participated in several regional meetings to date and also some training via webinars. The Nevis Disaster Management Plan and Emergency Contact Lists have also been updated and [circulated] to the general public. All sub-committees reported a state of readiness. Emergency Shelters as well have been inspected and a list has been circulated to the general public via the local media and also on social media,” he said.

The Cotton Ground and Pond Hill community centres, used as emergency shelters during natural disasters, have been outfitted with 1000-gallon water tanks and aluminium hurricane shutters. Very high frequency (VHF) radio equipment has been installed at the Cotton Ground Community Centre. VHF Radio equipment is scheduled to be installed at the Butlers, Pond Hill and Albertha Payne (Bath Village) community centres which were donated by the Japanese Embassy’s Grassroots funding program.

Jeffers advised the general public to bolster their disaster preparedness plans because of the updated projected forecast.

For the hurricane season so far, five named storms have already occurred, and we are only halfway through July.

Deputy National Disaster Coordinator, Claricia Langley-Stevens, during the July 15 broadcast of “Working for You”, expressed that in 2017 the Mitigation Council agreed to activate eight primary shelters on St. Kitts and five on Nevis as the council was expecting the Federation to be affected by a category five hurricane. Since then, the council has continued with the model of opening emergency shelters before a storm because they found the model worked better at mitigating relief efforts.

There are no prerequisites for admission into shelters. However, upon arrival at a shelter, an application form must be completed.

Langley-Stevens also emphasised the need for personal disaster preparation.

“From a family standpoint… in putting together your emergency supplies kit, we found that persons would have contacted us at the agency during an impact to let us know… I have the flashlight. But I didn’t buy any batteries. I have the candles, but I don’t have any [matches] because all of them got wet and things of that nature.”

She then went on to recount a situation in 2017 as an example to help people understand the necessity of personal preparation.

“I know a young lady who would have contacted us in 2017, where her roof would have been blown off. And thankfully, she had reached out to the agency on a personal level to be able to ask what are some of the things that I need to put in place. And so she quickly put her documents in a Ziploc bag and had it secured so that you know… water wouldn’t damage her important documents… She lived in the house at the time with a young baby and an older mother who required insulin medication that needed to be refrigerated. It means that you have to have some [plan] in place that suggests how [to] secure your insulin medication when you secure them from the pharmacy because you don’t know when, again, a facility would be open for [you to] be able to access these resources… so you need to be able to have your own readiness measures in place,”

The Atlantic Hurricane Season extends from June 01 to November 30 each year. The peak of the season is from mid-August to late October.

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