A joint strategic meeting comprising members of the Federal Cabinet and the Heads of the Police and Defence Forces met with His Excellency the Governor General Sir S. W. Tapley Seaton G.C.M.G., C.V.O., Q.C., on Tuesday morning in order to review final preparations for the imminent passage of Hurricane Irma which, at 11 am was some 275 miles east of the Federation, and having maximum sustained winds of 180 mph. At this rate, Hurricane Irma is an extremely dangerous storm.
The Cabinet delegation at this meeting was led by me as Prime Minister. The Deputy Prime Minister & Chairman of the National Disaster Mitigation Council, the Hon Shawn Richards; Minister with Responsibility for Health, et al, Hon Senator Wendy Phipps; Cabinet Secretary, Mrs Josephine Huggins; Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr Andrew Skerritt; and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Mr Osmond Petty were also in attendance.
The key purpose of Tuesday’s meeting was to receive a further update on the Country’s state of readiness for Hurricane Irma’s arrival, to activate the necessary sub-committees of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and to review protocols in relation to matters such as security, transportation, telecommunications and other issues should related difficulties arise in the storm’s aftermath. The meeting determined that we should immediately activate the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC). I have accordingly done so, and in this regard, I have designated the Deputy Prime Minister as the Chair of its Executive.
In light of the fact that the pending hurricane has been categorized as being extremely dangerous, the security forces have advised that the public should be foremost concerned about their safety and wellbeing and therefore should refrain from being on the streets after 6 pm. Only essential workers are expected to be outdoors and on the streets. Moreover, we seriously advise, for their own safety and security, that our citizens and residents remain indoors and continue to listen to all official advisories on the hurricane. The official government agencies will indicate when it is safe to venture outdoors after the passage of the hurricane.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been in contact with our allies and have updated them on the present situation which we face. I have also been in touch with both Dr the Right Hon Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada and chairman of CARICOM; and Prime Minister the Hon Allan Chastanet of St. Lucia, who is chairman of the OECS. Both Prime Ministers have offered their fullest support to the Government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis should we require assistance. I would also like to acknowledge the prayers and concerns of our nationals and well-wishers in the diaspora at this time. Equally, we also acknowledge the interest and concern expressed by international agencies.
My fellow citizens and residents: We are well aware that what we are preparing for is an extremely dangerous hurricane. We cannot take our safety and security for granted. All of our national security agencies have been fully mobilized and are on highest alert. Meanwhile, we implore you to follow all official instructions and recommendations with regard to your safety.
God bless the people of St. Kitts and Nevis and may He preserve our Land.