As the 2023 North Atlantic Hurricane Season begins, the St Thomas Municipal Corporation is reporting that 41 shelters are in a state of readiness to accommodate residents in the event of an emergency.
Mayor of Morant Bay, Councillor Hubert Williams, said that the facilities were deemed suitable after an inspection.
He said that steps are being taken to bring shelters in Eleven Miles and Winchester up to “good standing”, adding that a facility is needed in the White Horses community.
“So, we are now in the process of getting those up and running. We have done our inventory audit to see what we have and we are restocking. We have a good stock [of emergency items] but we recognise that we need a few more things and we were doing that,” Mayor Williams indicated.
As part of the hurricane preparedness measures, the Municipal Corporation is also evaluating the state of communication devices, including radios, that are used during emergencies.
“We are working on it and, hopefully, in short order we [will] get that sorted out,” he said.
Meanwhile, the mayor said that the Municipal Corporation has had to respond to cases of flooding due to the heavy rainfall that is impacting the island.
“A lot of our drains are fragile and because of that we’ve seen like the Bamboo River community being totally flooded, and the corporation had to respond and we got the situation sorted out,” he said.
There was also flooding in Duhaney Pen, which is a low-lying area of the parish, and the Mayor said that efforts are being made to reach and properly clean the drain, which is located in a “swampy area”.
Mayor Williams noted, further, that the ongoing road works under the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP) have caused some traffic delays, particularly with the heavy rainfall, “so we have to somewhat get that sorted out”.
“All in all, we’re just doing our best; we are working long hours each day to get the parish ready just in case we have a hurricane,” he said.
The six-month Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts that the season will be active, with the likelihood of at least five hurricanes from more than 12 tropical storms.