The Atlantic Hurricane Season commences on June 1st and ends on November 30th. However, this by no means indicates that a tropical cyclone may not develop prior to or following those dates.

According to statistics provided by the National Hurricane Center, the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season produced fifteen (15) named storms, seven (7) hurricanes, with four (4) being category #2 or higher. The Season gained the status of being the first above average hurricane season since 2012, beginning nearly five (5) months before the official start, on June 1st.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is encouraging residents and business owners, if you have not already done so to begin or to continue to engage in preparedness actions, in order to protect their property and loved ones, during the 2017 Season.

For 2017, a below average Atlantic Hurricane Season is predicted citing a total of 11 named storms and four (4) hurricanes with two (2) of them being major, according to the Colorado State University (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project, which is headed by Dr. Phil Klotzbach.

In light of this prediction, Deputy National Disaster Coordinator (DNDC), Mrs. Claricia Langley-Stevens has stated that seasonal forecasts are not written in stone and that must be clearly understood.

“The initial or early forecasts in any given year can change dramatically by the start and certainly all the way through to the highly-active period in September through November,” she said. “Subsequently, our best advice to persons is to pay attention to information from the local authorities and ensure that everything that can be done to protect life – first and property, is done.”

As part of NEMA’s Comprehensive Disaster Management remit, Mrs. Langley-Stevens has advised that the agency is in the process of hosting out a number of activities intended to promote resilience among residents within communities.

Beginning late last month, NEMA along with a number of stakeholders has been taking the message of Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) directly to community residents in the districts/communities where they live. The interactions are being carried out in an informal setting, with the intention of allowing individuals the opportunity to dialog with Disaster Managers and Practitioners, face to face. The aim is to create linkages between residents, businesses and national volunteers by reviewing and adjusting roles and responsibilities within the district mechanism.

Public Relations Officer, Vesta Southwell says that even though we are quickly approaching the Hurricane Season, the meetings will focus on the CDM strategy used by the NEMA to manage disasters.

“CDM is about the need for all residents and entities to give on-going attention to all hazards to which our country is vulnerable. Not just weather systems, and certainly not just hurricanes” she said, “This makes sense because it is not unheard of for a different type of hazard to impact concurrently.”

The DNDC has reiterated NEMA’s annual call to residents to approach the imminent Atlantic Hurricane Season from a standpoint of readiness.

“We urge everyone to take time to be informed, know your district representatives, know the location of shelters while at the same time assessing the conditions of your homes and or businesses to ensure that they can withstand the impact of a Tropical Cyclone, while providing protection to you and your family”, she said.

Protection against impact is simpler than most people realise, according to the DNDC.

It involves logical steps that instil confidence in persons who may be forced to remain in their homes for an extended period. According to NEMA’s website, those steps include ensuring that:

• The walls, roof and eaves of your home are secure
• Treetops and branches are trimmed well clear of your home
• Shutters, or at least metal screens, if possible, are installed
• Your property is cleared of loose materials that could become missiles and possibly cause injury or damage during extreme winds, and
• In case of a storm surge/tide warning, or other flooding, you know the location of the shelters in your area and the contact information for your NEMA District Volunteers.

Residents are also reminded of the importance of preparing and keeping the following on hand during an impact:

• An emergency kit containing:
o a portable battery radio, torch and spare batteries;
o water containers, dried or canned food and a can opener;
o drinking water, portable stove, cooking/eating utensils; and
o first aid kit and medication, masking tape for windows and waterproof bags for the storing important documents.

Part of preparing for an event includes the development of a Family Emergency Plan so that members of your family may understand what to do if they are separated either at the time of the impact or as a result of such, among other things.

According to Vesta Southwell, “a list of emergency numbers forms a critical component of any Emergency Plan; however, every action during this time is hinged on listening to your local authorities via the local radio and television regarding the status of the system and advice on steps to be taken should there be an impact.”

For more information on the upcoming Atlantic Hurricane Season including how you may keep yourself and your loved ones safe, please log onto our website or NEMA SKN on Facebook or call 466-5100.