Issue Date: June 1, 2020
Residents and friends of Montserrat, God’s mercy and love for this land and its people, are evident every day.
As we reflect on the past few months during what was an unprecedented time for Montserrat and indeed the world, we must give thanks to the heavenly father and acknowledge his merciful hands over us.
As you are all aware, we have been directing a lot of energy and resources to containing the COVID-19 Health Emergency, and we have made notable progress and success in this regard.
Certainly, we will continue to be vigilant so as to minimise any potential threat of a resurgence of the corona virus disease; but even as we maintain
our attention on the COVID-19 fight, we must now shift some focus to the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
The tropical storm and hurricane threat to us and indeed the entire region, is one which we anticipate every year and as a result, we know what we must do, individually and collectively to prepare, should one come our way.
This year is an exceptional year for the government and people of Montserrat as we continue to manage the COVID19, while at the same time ensuring that the necessary plans are in place to prepare for what forecasters have predicted as an above normal 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season; as of May 21 there is a 60% chance of above normal activity during the June 1st to November 30th period.
I do not need to remind you of how devastating tropical storms and hurricanes can be for us, as we have experienced our fair share of tropical storms and hurricanes, which have impacted our shores and left behind trails of destruction. Out of these experiences we were taught life lessons—making us resilient as a people.
In recent years, we have also seen how catastrophic hurricanes such as Dorian, Irma and Maria have been, as they devastated our regional brothers and sisters in 2019 and 2017 respectively. We must therefore prepare, the best we can to mitigate our loses.
As part of our preparations for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season, Government departments have been updating and reviewing their individual hurricane plans; we know this is important to protect our greatest asset – our people, and these plans are critical in ensuring that people know:
• What to do and how to respond should the country be impacted.
I wish at this time to express my thanks and appreciation to all our public officers who have worked to make sure that these plans are up to date and are shared with all staff. If for any reason there are others, who have not yet completed their plans and shared with staff, I urge you to do so without further delay.
I also want to encourage businesses and families to fine tune their individual hurricane preparedness plans, and urge you to share it with family members and staff; as this will allow each member of the family or business to become familiar with the contents.
It is essential for all members of the business or household to know
• where to go;
• where essential or emergency supplies are located; or
• who to call should there be a direct impact.
We know that businesses and indeed families, are still dealing with the economic fallout as a result of COVID-19, but we must band together as a community to support each other as best we can.
As part of Government’s hurricane preparedness efforts for the entire island, the Public Works Department in the Ministry of Communication, Works, Energy and Labour, will be actively engaged in its routine preparatory drain cleaning and verge cutting work, especially on our major water crossings in areas such as Cassava Ghaut, Runaway Ghaut, Carr’s Bay Bridge, Little Bay Market and at the Port. This is to ensure that our infrastructure is not at an increased risk of becoming blocked during periods of heavy rainfall; which could result in flooding.
Throughout this season, I encourage you to follow the guidance from the Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA) as they will be issuing alerts and advice throughout the hurricane season, aimed at ensuring we are prepared for any eventuality.
Let us also remember those in our communities who may not be in a position to help themselves and lend a helping hand whenever you can to guide them on how to stay safe. Be reminded that we are our brother’s keepers.
The level of alertness I saw displayed over the past weeks during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic must continue throughout the hurricane season. We must listen to the advice given to us by those in authority and be ready to take action–sometimes at short notice.
Do not become complacent as it only takes one hurricane to affect us and derail the advancements we have made as a Nation and as a people.
All shelters are being prepared if the need do arise for persons to seek shelter out of their homes. For this hurricane season operations and management of shelters could pose a challenge to both those in the shelters and the shelter managers, as we seek to keep people safe from the storms, while at the same time maintain measures in place to mitigate against any resurgence and spread of the coronavirus.
One such measure will be the adherence to social distancing as this will be advocated in shelters and I urge everyone, if you happen to be in a shelter be vigilant and follow the instructions of those in authority.
We cannot and must not lay down our guards.
While we do our part to prepare, as a predominantly Christian society we will also have faith and believe that by God’s grace we will be covered and protected during this hurricane season.