KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday September 30, 2016 – Prime Minister Andrew Holness has urged Jamaicans to prepare themselves for Hurricane Matthew, which could impact the island as early as Sunday.
Addressing an emergency meeting with heads of agencies ahead even before the hurricane reached its current Category 3 strength with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour, he said the Government is in preparation mode.
“The Government is now officially on high alert in preparation for a hurricane. It may not come; it may divert, but our job is to be prepared. So I’ve officially placed the apparatus of the Government on alert,” Holness said.
“Citizens should make all the necessary preparations. The Government will do all it can, but I have to appeal to all Jamaicans to look out for their own safety and security . . . …Heed the warnings that are given from the Government, particularly warnings to evacuate.”
Following presentations from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), National Works Agency (NWA), the National Water Commission (NWC), the security forces, and other relevant agencies,
Holness said he was satisfied that all disaster management measures have been activated.
Acknowledging the potential impact of the hurricane on the country’s economic prospects, the Prime Minister said it is critical that this is mitigated through preparedness.
He urged members of Parliament to check for blocked gullies and drains in their constituencies and move with alacrity to do necessary cleaning work to avoid potential flooding.
Director of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica Evan Thompson said the hurricane is expected to pass Jamaica’s eastern coastline from Sunday evening into Monday morning.
In its latest advisory at 11 a.m., the National Hurricane Centre in Miami said a hurricane watch may be required for Jamaica later today.
Hurricane Matthew was 495 miles southeast of Kingston and moving toward the west–southwest near 12 miles per hour.
In its life as a tropical storm earlier this week, Matthew dumped heavy showers on some islands in the eastern Caribbean, causing one death in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.