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Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson (centre), encouraged Barbadians and residents to ensure that they did what was necessary to be prepared for the current hurricane season, which is yet to reach its peak. Beside him are Dr. William Duguid (left), Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance; and Peter Phillips, Minister in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance.

‘Remain vigilant’

Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson, has urged Barbadians to be vigilant as the peak of the hurricane season has yet to arrive.

Speaking to the media recently at a press briefing regarding the new traffic lights at the Westmoreland junction, Minister Hinkson also used the time to encourage Barbadians to be prepared for the hurricane season.

“The reality is that we are very far from the height of the season and that Barbadians and residents must remain vigilant as to what can happen and nothing beats preparation,” stated Hinkson.

The minister highlighted that for the first time, Barbados would be preparing for the season in the midst of a global pandemic. He explained that the current administration, through the National Advisory Committee, has been making preparations for the hurricane season and the committee has met five times over the last six weeks.

“We would have met with social welfare, whose responsibility it is to ensure that people are protected socially, the most vulnerable. We have been involved with the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that there will be food supplies to each area of Barbados in the event that any district in Barbados is cut off and that there would be sufficient food channelled to that area,” explained the minister.

Hinkson also mentioned meetings with the Housing Ministry where stronger arrangements were made for the supply of building material, if there is a need for swift repairs for the houses of any residents impacted. The availability of hurricane shelters and the complex situation of physical distancing during any serious weather activity was also discussed with the Ministry of Education, who is responsible for the shelters.

“Clearly that is a possible and potential challenge with COVID-19 and the issue of social distancing, but we have worked out a system for that, in terms of not having to

decrease the amount of people in the hurricane shelter, but also looking at getting more hurricane shelters available,” said Hinkson.

The Minister of Home Affairs also asked Barbadians to do what was necessary to individually prepare because the administration could not do it alone. He told the public to stock food and supplies such as batteries and flashlights, along with anything that would assist in time without electricity.

“Make sure your personal properties are secure, look around and make sure the surrounding areas are free from debris. Make sure wells and drains in the neighbourhood and that there are no potential flying objects around your property and get together in the community and assist with the clearing and make sure you have your hurricane kit,” stated Hinkson.

Minister Hinkson also made the suggestion for people to insure their homes and cover personal items and also have a backup in case of disaster.

“While of course your precious personal items cannot be replaced, insurance will assist in making sure you have a foot up to start again.”

Minister in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance, Peter Phillips, also chimed in, saying that drains had been cleared to help with drainage to prevent flooding in certain areas. However, he urged persons to help the Government by reducing litter and not dumping garbage.

“We want you to help us by not dumping your old beds, stoves and all sorts of garbage within waterways and along the streets. When the rain comes, it picks up all those containers, those plastic bottles and carries it wherever. That, as a result, can block up drains and culverts and cause flooding to take place in various communities,” said Phillips. (AS)

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