BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, July 13, 2018 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – With the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season predicted to be slightly above average, Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, has advised the nation that all Government agencies and associated non-governmental organizations associated with the Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation Council are in a state of readiness.

The honourable prime minister gave that update during Friday’s (July 13) sitting of the National Assembly, where he also issued a strong warning to citizens and residents to take the necessary precautions now to be ready for the passage of a hurricane during the season.

Dr. Harris disclosed that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), led by Mr. Abdias Samuel as National Disaster Coordinator, continues to lead the country’s disaster preparedness and mitigation efforts.

The National Disaster Plan is built out around the work of ten sub-committees, namely: the Medical & Public Health Sub-Committee, Transport, Education, Communication and Warning, Housing and Shelter, Damage Assessment and Evaluation Damage, Foreign Assistance, Environment, Welfare, Relief Supplies and Shelter Management, Utilities, and the Search, Rescue and Initial Clearance Sub-Committee.

“Minutes of the last meeting of the Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation Council [held in May 2018] showed that Hurricane Preparedness Updates were provided by the MET Office, the St. Kitts and Nevis Red Cross Society, the Ministry of Education, Housing and Shelter and SCASPA [and] all of them gave a good account of where they’re at in terms of their preparation,” Prime Minister Harris stated.

While the various government agencies and NGOs are in the process of finalizing their action plans, Prime Minister Harris is encouraging residents to take the necessary steps at the individual level to take the necessary precautionary measures.

“It is not too early to start thinking and doing something that conforms to an active preparation which each of us should undertake. It is not too early to ensure that required supplies are accumulated and stored well in advance. We want to ask our people not depend upon last minute preparations. The vulnerable among us, the elderly, they should also be given special attention and of course as part of our exercise of preparation we should begin to think about how and where we will treat our elderly and those who are vulnerable in the context of a visiting hurricane,” the prime minister said.

Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris also expressed his pleasure with the increase in youth involvement in disaster management, particularly through the establishment of the Comprehensive Disaster Management Youth Ambassador initiative, which is the first of its kind in the Caribbean.

Prime Minister Harris said that the Youth Ambassador initiative was launched by NEMA last November with the full endorsement of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), and “apart from serving as the new spokespersons for NEMA’s recently launched public service announcements, these volunteer Youth Ambassadors get out the message of disaster management to young people in the Federation.”

Forecast predicts 12 named storms for the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which includes 6-7 hurricanes, with 2-4 of those becoming major hurricanes.