Statement by the deputy prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Honourable Shawn Richards,

chair of the National Disaster Mitigation Council, Sunday, Sept. 3: 

Fellow citizens and residents,

The National Disaster Mitigation Council met on Friday, Sept. 1, and again today, Sunday, Sept. 3, to strategize how to keep all residents of St. Kitts and Nevis safe and to mitigate against damages during the passage of Hurricane Irma this week.

Pleased be advised that by the time Irma is in the vicinity of St. Kitts and Nevis sometime Wednesday, Sept. 6, it is expected that the hurricane will have wind speeds of 140 miles per hour.  This means that it will be a Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, the 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed.      

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) based in Miami, Fla., hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of the potential for significant loss of life and damage.

Chief among this disaster mitigation response effort is ensuring that members of the public receive life-saving information to assist them in adequately preparing for the passage of the powerful hurricane. 

To this end, public service announcements are being aired on the state-owned media outlet ZIZ Broadcasting Corporation and the public is strongly urged to cooperate with all advisories.

The Met Office warns that seas will get “very, very rough,” rising to about 10 feet by Tuesday and peaking to up to 17 feet by Wednesday, if Hurricane Irma continues on its current track.  These figures will be much higher if the hurricane passes to the south of St. Kitts-Nevis rather than on its current track.

To minimize loss of life during Hurricane Irma:

  • The National Disaster Mitigation Council encourages you to seek shelter with a family member or a friend if you do not feel that you are prepared or healthy enough to subsist during the hurricane in your own home. 
  • If no family or friend is ready to assist you, please utilize the nearest shelter to you and go there prepared for at least three days with your emergency kit.  A complete list of emergency shelters will be provided in the media.
  • Have an emergency kit stocked with necessary supplies such as one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation purposes; at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food; at least three weeks’ supply of your prescribed medication; a battery-powered or hand-crank radio; flashlights; a first-aid kit; batteries; moist towelettes, garbage bags and other personal sanitation items; a manual can opener, and a cell phone with a charger and backup battery.    
  • Make a note of the NEMA volunteers, district managers and assistants near you and their contact information in the event that you need to get in touch with them before, during or after the hurricane.  A complete list will be provided in the media.
  • Fishers, farmers and members of the public are strongly urged to secure boats, livestock and animals. 
  • Please be warned that you risk damaging or losing your vehicle in a flood by parking in a ghaut/gully or in other areas that are prone to overflowing during heavy rains.

As at 11 a.m., hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 25 miles from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 80 miles.  These figures will most likely increase in the week ahead as the hurricane, which at 11 a.m. was a Category 3, is expected to strengthen in intensity and increase in size.

This morning, Irma had wind speeds near 115 mph and a central minimum pressure of 969 millibars. The eye of Hurricane Irma was located near latitude 17.7 North, longitude 48.4 West.  It was moving west-southwest near 14 mph, putting it at approximately 940 miles east of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Please take the passage of Hurricane Irma very seriously.  Stock up on essential items and start securing your property now.  Stay tuned to ZIZ Television (Channel 5) and Radio (95.9, 96.1, 96.3 and 96.9 FM), as well as VON Radio (860 AM) for the latest information on Hurricane Irma and obey all advisories issued by the St. Kitts-Nevis authorities.

I believe that with everyone’s cooperation – and with God’s help – we will come through the passage of Hurricane Irma safely and stronger than ever before as a country.