Bridgetown, Barbados, June 2, 2009 (CDERA)
- "The prediction for an average hurricane season is no reason to become complacent and not prepare," cautioned Jeremy Collymore, Coordinator of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) at the Annual Press Conference, held today (June 2) at the CDERA Coordinating Unit (CU) in Barbados.
Compared to last year's predictions for a very active hurricane season, the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season is forecasted to have 11 named storms, 5 hurricanes and two (2) hurricanes reaching category 3 or above.
Collymore observed that "news of this may lull some people into believing that there is no need to prepare for this season, but they need to remember that it just takes one major hurricane, such as Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, to cause devastating damage."
He drew attention to the islands of Jamaica, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Cuba and Haiti which experienced multiple impacts from four events, Tropical Storm Fay, and Hurricanes Gustav, Hannah and Ike, between August 15- September 14 2008 and Hurricane Omar which affected nine of the CDERA Participating States. "These events will challenge the response capacity of the best prepared," he said.
He indicated that the region has stepped up its efforts to address preparedness and response actions for multiple impacts and the increased frequency and intensity of tropical weather systems.
He said that more emphasis is being placed on ensuring that the four sub regional focal points, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, have the capacity to support response to those countries within their areas of responsibility.
Training has been a key area of readiness actions for 2009. Over 300 persons have been trained in exercises that involved the CARICOM Disaster Relief Unit (CDRU), Regional Security System, national search and rescue response teams and other emergency personnel," Collymore stated. The staff of the CDERA Coordinating Unit was also engaged in exercises that tested the CU contingency plans and procedures.
He expressed appreciation for the support received from United States Southern Command (US SOUTHCOM), the Eastern Caribbean Donor Group and other partners in facilitating the training and exercises conducted this year.
He observed that at the national level there is more direct political interest in disaster management issues and some countries are becoming more engaged in national readiness initiatives. He nevertheless urged that "attention be given to individual and family preparedness."
Media personnel at the briefing today were introduced to resources on the CDERA website that would assist in developing individual and family plans as well as provide news and updates on the 2009 hurricane season.
For information, please contact :
Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response
Building No. 1, Manor Lodge Complex, Lodge Hill, St. Michael
Barbados, West Indies
Tel No: (246) 425-0386, Fax No: (246) 425-8854