Premier of Montserrat Joseph Farrell on Monday called for the nation to prepare for possible hurricanes as the season officially begins today. Already there have been two named storms Arthur and Bertha, which formed in May. Another system is showing potential for development at time of publishing.
The premier, in a prepared statement to mark of the start of the hurricane season said “God’s mercy and love for this land and its people, are evident every day.”
He said that while considerable energy and resources have been directed to containing the COVID-19 Health Emergency on island, some of the focus must now shift 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,” he stated.
“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.”
The premier revealed that as part of the preparatory process government departments have been reviewing and updating their 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.”
He also called for businesses and families to do the same and to ensure that all members of staff as well as family know where to go, where essential or emergency supplies are located; and who to contact if directly impacted.
“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,” Premier Farrell added.
“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.”
He asked that everyone should be their brothers keepers and help where needed. Farrell also stated that 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.”
Local hurricane shelters are being prepared and must now consider operating with the additional challenge of implementing social distancing protocols to mitigate against any resurgence and spread of the coronavirus.