Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie (left), converses with (from 2nd left), Mayor of May Pen, Winston Maragh; Member of Parliament for Central Clarendon, Mike Henry; and Principal of Denbigh High School, Janice Julal. The Minister stopped at the school on Friday (July 2), during a tour of shelters in the parish.

Gov’t Prepared for Any Impact from Tropical Storm Elsa

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says the Government and its agencies are prepared for any impact from the now downgraded Tropical Storm Elsa.

“I want to assure the country that the Government is as ready as we can be to face the challenges,” he said, during a tour of designated shelters in the parish of Clarendon on Friday (July 2).

The purpose of the tour was to assess the state of readiness of the shelters to accommodate residents of the parish.

Among the facilities visited were Denbigh High, Osborne Store Primary and Junior High, Race Course Primary, Alley Primary, Portland Cottage Primary, Rocky Point Community Centre, and Bustamante High School. 

At Portland College, shelter managers and residents did a mock exercise demonstrating how the facility will operate in keeping with the coronavirus (COVID) guidelines, including observing six-feet spacing and accommodating persons with special needs such as those in wheelchairs.

In an address to the media at Portland Cottage Primary, Minister McKenzie said that Clarendon is among the most vulnerable parishes in Jamaica “so we have to take special care.” 

The topography of Clarendon is generally low, and several communities are prone to flooding.

“I think Clarendon has one of the best disaster response teams in the country… Clarendon, along with about five other municipalities, has been using the technology of drones to assess the vulnerable areas across the parishes. That is something that is commendable and I think we must commend them for that innovative approach,” Minister McKenzie said. 

Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, and Member of Parliament for Clarendon South Eastern. Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr, who was also on the tour, said he was “very impressed” with what he saw at the designated shelters.

He noted that the mock exercise “guided us on how our residents are to interact inside the shelter and how they will be engaged in the event of any unfortunate circumstances.”  

For his part, Mayor of May Pen and Chairman of the Clarendon Municipal Corporation, Winston Maragh, encouraged persons to seek shelter if they live in flood-prone areas and contact emergency personnel if they are in need.

“Our emergency operating centre will be open and the number to call if you have any challenge is 876-986-2903 or 876-986-2216,” he advised.

The Meteorological Service Division in its 11:00 am bulletin, downgraded the hurricane warning for Jamaica to a tropical storm warning as Elsa continues to weaken.
This means that hurricane conditions are no longer likely, however, tropical storm conditions pose a possible threat within the next 24 hours.

On its forecast track, the centre of Tropical Storm Elsa will move near the southern coast of Hispaniola later today and tonight, pass northeast of Jamaica on Sunday morning, then move over parts of eastern Cuba later in the day.

Weather conditions over Jamaica are expected to deteriorate this evening with widespread rain and tropical-storm-force winds spreading over northern and eastern parishes, and then to the rest of the island during the night and early on Sunday.

The Met Service advises that 75-150 millimetres (3-6 inches) of rainfall could cause flash flooding in low-lying areas. Northeastern parishes should also expect two to four feet storm surges along the coast.

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is advising persons in low-lying and flood-prone areas such as St. Mary, Portland, St. Thomas, Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon, and Manchester to exercise caution and to be prepared to move to higher ground if necessary.

Persons are advised to avoid flooded water-ways such as fording, gullies, streams, or rivers, either on foot or in vehicles; ensure that all important documents are secured in plastic bags or waterproof containers; and to shut off all electrical power, gas and water supplies in areas that are in immediate danger for flooding.

The original article was taken from Jamaica Information Service