Categorized | National News

Bahamas Braces For Storm–NEMA Says No Room For Mistakes

After a quiet hurricane season, the country is now faced with a possible threat of a storm, but National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Director Captain Stephen Russell said his organisation is prepared in the event of a disaster.

In an interview with the Bahama Journal yesterday, Captain Russell assured that NEMA is taking the necessary precautions to ensure all life and property are secured.

As of yesterday, weather reports indicated that there were two existing systems; Tropical Gaston, and an unnamed invest on Gaston heels, a tropical disturbance somewhere about the Leeward islands.

However, weather officials said that although Gaston was projected to morph into hurricane status, on its projected path, it was no threat to The Bahamas.

Meanwhile, the tropical disturbance though, yesterday was forecasted to develop into a tropical wave, and bring with it gusty winds and heavy rains; increasing the chance of flash flooding.

According to weather forecasters, this system is expected to affect the entire chain of islands if it continues on its path.

With the southern islands still recovering from Hurricane Joaquin’s devastation last October, the captain said attention would be given especially to those islands.

“Shelters are up to standard. They will always be up to standard. Now last year the issue was with the administrator in Acklins not having his cell phone. We are ensuring that all administrators have their satellite phones and we tested out those phones to make sure they are ok,” he said.

In the aftermath of Joaquin, NEMA came under scrutiny as the question of whether there was a break-down in communication stemming from the organisation, which reportedly left the southern islands without proper warning.

Captain Russell said the organisation this year will leave no room for blame on its part.

Last year, the organisation had announced that it was going to be proactive in finding ways to improve on its method of disseminating information in the midst of a crisis.

One practical way he noted this was done was through social media, by developing a “whats app group” for all parties involved.

“Once I get a note from the Department of Meteorology I can take five minutes and I can send an update. I am sure that 20 or more persons throughout the entire link of a single island is getting this information in,” he said.

“We are stepping up our communications process, ensuring that the information is getting across the nation, so that no one can complain that they didn’t have sufficient time or that they didn’t get the information,” he continued.

“And likewise, Batelco has been testing their system where they can send an emergency notification blast to all cell phone holders. They have done it so far in all the Family Islands, but they’re still working in Nassau. We hope to get a test in Nassau sometime this week. We are ensuring that all Family Island administrators know how to use the satellite phones,” he added.

There was also the question of the family island administrators being in place.

“I am physically trying to hear from all of our administrators. Some 20 of our administrators. I want to hear from every single one of our districts throughout The Bahamas to ensure that they would have been meeting and taking the necessary steps for what can come from these gusty winds. We want them to make sure that where they have low lying areas, there are drains,” said Captain Russell.

“They also need to make sure they know where their senior citizens are and where they can move them to. Make sure the shelter and managers are checking to make sure if they have to go into the shelters in the next 48 hours,” he said.

Meantime Transport and Aviation Minister Glennys Hanna Martin on Tuesday, urged all residents in Long Island, Ragged Island, Acklins, Crooked Island, Mayaguana and Inagua to pay special heed to the very important weather alerts issued by the Department of Meteorology.

She called on all residents to take every necessary precaution to assure the protection of life and property.

















Written by Jones Bahamas

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