NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (June 01, 2022) — The following is a statement by Hon. Alexis Jeffers, Minister responsible for Disaster Management in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) on the start of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season which begins on June 01 and ends on November 30.
1st June annually is recognized as the start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Residents of Nevis are urged to be ready in the event this season produces monster storms with devastation, matching or exceeding those of Hurricanes Dorian, Irma, Maria or super storm Sandy.
The impact of climate change is expected to intensify our vulnerabilities. Global warming trends are contributing to an increase in ocean temperatures and resulting in rising sea levels. This can potentially fuel more storms, erode coral reefs and remove coastal barriers.
Our history has shown that significant impacts on our economy has had major setbacks on our socioeconomic and physical environments. The need to build our resilience and reduce the vulnerability of our society has now become vital. This is why I am here today as Minister with responsibility for Disaster Management to urge everyone who have not yet begun, to start getting prepared early for this year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season.
On Tuesday 24th May 2022, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), released its predictions for an above-average hurricane activity this year. The forecast range of 14 to 21 named storms of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes including 3 to 6 major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher.
The Nevis Disaster Management Department plays a leading role in comprehensive disaster management activities, and is vigorously supported by a cadre of trained persons and volunteers that play critical roles in coordinating the preparatory actions across the island.
Preparation for this hurricane season is important. I encourage the private and public sector businesses to establish emergency plans and business continuity plans. I appeal to all families to establish family disaster and communication plans [and] in addition to conduct simulated evacuation drills. Proper planning with friends and families reduces the likelihood of panic during emergencies.
Some of the tips we encourage are:
1. Know where the Emergency Shelters are located
2. Stock up on food with extended expiry dates
3. Have supplies such as first aid kits, flashlights with extra batteries, create go bags with important documents, cash, medicines and change of clothing.
4. Trim trees with over hanging branches and clean known drains and waterways.
5. Listen to the alerts and warnings issued from the local meteorological offices and the Nevis Disaster Management Department.
Regardless of the Hurricane forecasts, we must be reminded that it only takes one storm to damage our homes, neighbourhoods, communities and our beautiful island. The growing economic losses over the last 20 years have taught us invaluable lessons and the importance of disaster-proofing critical infrastructure.
The most vulnerable in our society are usually the hardest hit by storms. This group includes the elderly, single headed households, low-income earners, those without an extensive family or social network and those who are mobility challenged or impaired. This vulnerable group also tend to have some of the lowest evacuation and sheltering rates.
I remind you that experiencing hurricanes can be stressful events. It is imperative that we are armed with the knowledge of what to do before, during and after each impact. I can assure you that the Nevis Island Administration pledges its support and will do its part to ensure the island’s readiness for the eventualities of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
The task at hand requires a coordinated approach at all levels. Our collective efforts and actions to reduce our vulnerabilities are small yet significant steps toward minimizing the loss of lives, psychological trauma and economic costs of disasters in our Federation.
In concluding, I want to express my sincere and heartfelt appreciation to the volunteers who have sacrificed their time and safety over the years in an effort to ensure vulnerable persons are taken care of. The disaster sub-committees that represent an all-of-government-approach, Healthcare workers, Public Works Team, Emergency Shelter managers, First Response Agencies, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) and the Red Cross volunteers. Your willingness to serve year after year is commendable. I salute you and thank you in advance for your invaluable support and cooperation throughout this season and beyond.
Finally, I send out an appeal to join the efforts of the Nevis Disaster Management Department and this Government in building a resilient island. Your overwhelming support is critical to our very survival and will put us in a better position towards building resilience in our beloved Nevis. This will add value to our economy, enhance the island’s preparedness, response mechanisms and recovery efforts.
May Almighty God continue to guide, guard and protect our beloved Nevis.