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Officials continue to urge businesses & citizens to prepare for the hyperactive hurricane season

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN)—The Caribbean region is officially in the swing of the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and the region has already seen four to five tropical storms passing through the region, indicative of the hyperactive season projected by officials.

Abdias Samuel, the National Disaster Coordinator with the National Emergency Management Agency, reiterated the call for preparedness during the June 07, 2024 broadcast of WINN’s ‘Voices’. Despite the continuous urging from officials, Samuel expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of seriousness in response to the warning about the season, underscoring the gravity of the situation.

“We are not seeing from the agency the sense of urgency. What we are seeing is a high level of complacency. And the question is always being asked: well, Abdias, what do you want to see? What we want to see is more activities from the public in terms of preparing the household. We are checking the household [and] looking at activities for the plans. We want to see the business community doing [what SKELEC] is doing. If you go to their office in Central Street, you will see that they have a whole display advising their customers as to some of the things that they can do, some of the things that they can prepare to have that emergency response go kit. And what we want, King Socrates, is for all the business community to do that.”

St. Kitts and Nevis has not been seriously hit by a hurricane for the past few years, and many have said it is because the island is blessed. But Samuel is of the opinion that we can’t rely on the past trend of no impact for this season.

“ Once we get that behavioural change that people accept that we have a hyperactive season, that it’s above normal, that we are experiencing high temperatures – I just gave you my experience – Those are indicative factors that we are up for a challenging hurricane season. This is no longer that, yes, we are blessed. This is no longer that, you know, divine intervention… we want all the divine interventions, but we have to deal with the reality on the ground. And you hear my passion is because I don’t want us to go into a phase of just being reactive as a small island state. We have to be proactive, and the proactiveness comes from the general public being prepared, [and] the state being prepared to provide the response to the need of the affected when that happens. And in the meantime, we have this space.”

The reason for this intensified warning comes as climate change continues to ravage the environment, further warming sea surface temperatures, which feed the development of storms.

“The sea surface temperatures they are also being experienced deeper in the ocean. So that means that our ocean waters are extremely warm. It affects the marine life and then it provides the environment that is conducive for storm development and support. It fuels the storm. And the forecast [is ]not showing that the sea levels are going to decrease in temperature anytime soon.”

The National Disaster Coordinator also suggested that the latter part of the hurricane season seems likely to intensify beyond current predictions.

“In the second half of the season, there’s a likelihood that we’re going to see intensification of this forecast because the Sahara dust is going to subside. The Sahara dust sometimes in itself goes more down to the south. Like recently, persons were calling me about the Sahara dust. So I said to them that the concentration levels for the northeast are significantly low compared to the concentration levels down in the south. So that’s why some persons may experience, and others may not experience [it] because the concentration levels are not that high for us to issue any advisories. Now, when the concentrations in which [are] the parts per million – when it reaches that threshold – then we look at issuing the advice.”

In the June 07 edition of WINN’s ‘Fireproof’, an official shared his view of the public about the lack of urgency and care for the hurricane season being observed.

“As persons out there still haven’t [taken] heed to the warnings, even though, you know, there is a talk about the active season, what could happen and so forth. Persons just seem not to care about it. They just go along, go about their life as usual.”

Abnormalities throughout the season are expected, and Samuel continues to urge families, communities and businesses to have an effective disaster plan to mitigate the impact of potential storms.

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