BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday January 29, 2020 – Although the six-month Atlantic hurricane season won’t officially begin until June 1, Government is not leaving anything to chance and has started its preparations.
And Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson has urged all residents to follow suit with their personal plans and those for their communities, in an effort to strengthen the island’s resilience to natural hazards.
He said Government was already seeking to ensure that the island had greater water and energy capacity post disaster, and that vehicles were available to respond to those who might be affected.
“We have entered into a memorandum of understanding with the private sector [so] that we could command their vehicles, equipment, tractors….We also entered a memorandum of understanding with food distributors, so that we can ensure a supply of food in the aftermath of a disaster. And, we have also made arrangements [that in the event] parts of Barbados are cut off that food will be distributed pre-event into those parts as well as equipment,” Hinkson said.
“These are the kinds of strategies that we as a Government have sought to employ within the context of our economic and financial constraints at present. We need to ensure that Barbados is as ready as possible to face and manage a disaster and be resilient.”
In addition, the Minister said, Cabinet agreed to employ 360 people, 12 from each of the island’s 30 constituencies, to clean up Barbados through an arrangement between the National Conservation Commission and the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance, under a three-month programme. Once completed, Hinkson said it would be reviewed to see if it could be continued.
Meanwhile, he called on residents in communities to join together and clean-up their surrounding as – task which would need to be repeated in another six months.
Minister Hinkson urged people not to consider it “too soon” to begin their hurricane preparedness, but rather to get prepared as Barbados was within one of the most vulnerable parts of the world in terms of natural disasters.
He also appealed to homeowners to insure their homes, noting that Government was committed to finding a platform to assist the most vulnerable who were financially unable to do so.
“It has been a challenge of Barbados governments for at least 40 years to be able to comprehensively insure all houses in Barbados, we have to ensure that all houses are sustainable,” Hinkson emphasized.
The Home Affairs Minister reminded residents that everyone had a responsibility to prepare for the hurricane season and for natural disasters, as Government could not do it all.