Hurricane Preparedness and Government Shelters amid COVID-19

The hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 annually and is forecasted to be ‘above normal’ in 2020. The forecasts show 13-19 named storms, with six to ten being hurricanes and three to six being major hurricanes.

The last major hurricane in Jamaica – Hurricane Sandy – occurred on October 24, 2012 and cost the Government of Jamaica $9.7 billion in direct and indirect damages.

The Government’s Response:

Recognising the need for alertness, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), alongside the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB); the municipal corporations and the parish disaster committees is working on strengthening its shelter management protocols, some of which include:

• Spacing Measures: Adherence to spacing specifications in shelters is essential to reducing the spread of COVID-19. Schools and churches will offer more space to meet the 6ft physical distancing requirements for shelter occupants during a hurricane.

• Screening Measures: Persons who wish to use the facilities will be screened prior to entry. If they have any respiratory illness they will be automatically placed in an isolation area within the shelter.

• Additional Personnel Deployed: The Government will dispatch additional persons to enforce the physical distancing and other safety protocols within shelters.

• Health Stations: Hand sanitisation stations and thermometers will be set up for the monitoring of occupants in the shelters.

General Shelter Protocols:

There are approximately 887 shelters available to the public. Of this number, 204 are commonly used. The number of available shelters are currently under review due to COVID-19. See general guidelines for shelter usage below:

• Animals are not allowed
• Cots, blankets and other comfort items are provided by the shelter
• Take along some non-perishable food items to bolster what the shelter will provide
• If you have a young child, take formulas and other necessities
• Take medications, asthma pumps and other necessities
• Take any other item that may help you to function within the shelter

General Hurricane Precautions:

• Have non-perishable food items in stock
• Fill all prescriptions before the start of the hurricane
• If you have a baby or young child, have food, formulas and medicines up to date
• Pack an emergency bag with food, water and medications, should you need to evacuate your premises and head to a shelter
• If you have a disability, carry a personal alarm that emits a loud noise to draw attention in case of an emergency. Tag all special needs equipment and include instructions on how to use and/or move each assistive device during an emergency
• All pregnant women who are within one month of their delivery date should relocate to the homes of family or friends who are in close proximity to a hospital or delivery centre
• Have an accessible emergency contact list

Parish Disaster Coordinators (PDCs):

Visit the link below for information on your PDCs:

For Further Information, contact:
Office of Disaster Preparedness and
Emergency Management (ODPEM)
2-4 Haining Road
Kingston 5
Tel: 876-906-9674/888-225-5637

Ministry of Health and Wellness
10-16 Grenada Crescent
Kingston 5
Telephone: 876-633-7433/8172

The original article was taken from Jamaica Information Service