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PM urges preparedness despite prediction for 'below-normal' hurricane season

Friday, June 20, 2014    

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PRIME Minister Portia Simpson Miller says vigilance must be maintained despite predictions for a below-normal level of activity for the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane season.

Simpson Miller, who was addressing a National Disaster Committee meeting at Jamaica House on Wednesday, said it is still quite important for the country's disaster preparedness and emergency management systems to be fully operational and equipped to deal with any adverse conditions.

"Mitigation is very important; and so we need to do what we can now to ensure that our people do not suffer, in the event of a disaster," she stated.

The prime minister further charged all ministries, departments, and agencies, as well as public and private entities, to ensure that mitigation programmes are in place, and to work closely with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).

"What I want to see happening is that we begin to prepare communities from now. I would like us to implement a number of public education campaigns utilising the expertise of the Jamaica Information Service to inform communities of the importance of preparedness during this season," she stated.

Meanwhile, Simpson Miller and the ODPEM signed the National Chemical Emergency Response Protocol.

The document outlines the country's plan of operation in relation to chemical emergencies, both ashore, and within Jamaica's waters.

Acting Director General of the ODPEM Richard Thompson said the protocol is of considerable significance to Jamaica's response mechanism, as it regards technological hazards.

"We are having an increase in events of chemical spills in the country, and we will be working to ensure that our chemical response protocol will effectively manage these kinds of happenings," he stated.

The National Disaster Committee meeting, which was chaired by the prime minister, was attended by representatives from several public and private sector organisations involved in disaster mitigation.

This included the ODPEM; National Works Agency; ministries of health, local government and community development, and labour and social security; Jamaica Fire Brigade; National Solid Waste and Management Authority; and National Meteorological Service.

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