Average or not, hurricane season still poses threat, official warns
BRIDGETOWN - It only takes one. That was the message Acting Deputy Director of the Department of Emergency Management in Barbados, Captain Robert Harewood, sought to impress on residents as the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially started yesterday.
Projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center and the Colorado State University (CSU) point to storm activity being average this year.
But Harewood says that’s no reason to be complacent.
“It only takes one major event making landfall to significantly impact the island,” he emphasized during the DEM’s annual press conference yesterday.
“I want to encourage people to recognize that it would only take one event to impact us. Preparedness starts at the individual level and we need people to understand that they each have a major role to play.”
Noting that historically Barbados was spared from the devastating impacts of tropical weather systems in the past, Harewood called on residents to remember the damage and displacement left in the wake of Tropical Storms Emily in 1987; Lili in 2002; Ivan in 2004 and Tomas in 2010, along with numerous flooding events which collectively impacted over 5,000 people.
“It is therefore important for all of us as individuals, businesses and Government entities, to recognize the particular hazard vulnerabilities within our scope and the value of the comprehensive disaster management approach in treating to them.
“We all have a role to play in reducing those vulnerabilities and ensuring that we are adequately prepared for, and can respond to their impacts,” he stated.
Before the June 1 official start of the season, Hurricane Alex formed over the far eastern Atlantic in January and moved through the Azores before weakening, while last weekend, Tropical Storm Bonnie became the second named tropical system of the season, though it only made landfall in the southeastern US state of South Carolina as a tropical depression.
Noting that there were other “out of season” developments in previous years, Acting Deputy Director of the Barbados Meteorological Service, Sonia Nurse, said: “We urge people to prepare for the hurricane season as usual. Listen to the weather reports and don’t be complacent.”
She also encouraged residents to protect their properties by getting the necessary insurance.