CHARLESTOWN, Nevis - WITH today, June 1, marking the official start of the 2021 Hurricane Season, Minister with Responsibility for the Nevis Disaster Management Agency, Alexis Jeffers is calling for residents to prepare themselves properly.
The season runs from June 1 to November 30, 2021 and forecasters are projecting an above normal period with approximately 13-20 storms during that six-month window.
According to the Minister, six to 10 could become hurricanes - with winds of 74 mph or higher - and at least three to five major hurricanes - category 3, 4 or 5 with winds of 111 mph or higher.
“Some of the features that will impact the activities this year are a predicted warmer-than-average sea surface temperature in the Tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, weaker Tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced West African monsoon,” added Jeffers.
Last year, the Atlantic region broke the record for the number of storms in one year with 30 bettering the previous 27 recorded in 2005, which is now raising alarms bells for the NDMA.
In an address, Minister Jeffers asserted that while the predictions and forecasting capabilities of the experts seem to get better with time, “they still cannot control where a hurricane will impact. This information serves merely as advice and a means of making persons and interests in our island prepare accordingly so that we can minimise loss of life and property”.
Though the Federation has not been directly impacted by a hurricane in recent years, the heavy downpours have caused mudslides, damage to houses, downed trees and power poles, while at the same time pushing vehicles into the Caribbean Sea.
The Nevis Disaster Committee has begun to plan for another meeting, as just recently its members met for one in anticipation of the Hurricane Season, and most agencies are “ready to activate their disaster plans should it become necessary”.
The 2021 Hurricane Season is compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has creating an effect on the entire region, and the challenges it poses.
As preparations continue, there is growing concern about social distancing at shelters on the island of Nevis.
“...the practice of physical distancing and masking, as well as sanitisation regimes, are problematic at the level of shelter management. Additionally, the possibility of prolonged disruption of essential water and electricity services not only could affect our comfort but our health as well. So, it is important, if not imperative, that we are prepared and have contingencies in place,” the Minister emphasised.
Meanwhile, Jeffers disclosed that in addition to the work being done at the community centers and shelters, the Nevis Disaster Management Department is investing in a robust communication platform that allows connection for essential services, which aid in safety, security and service delivery.
To this end, he reiterated his encouragement for people to prepare for the above-normal season.
“As Minister responsible for Disaster Management, I encourage us all to get our individual and household plans in place in anticipation of an impact, even while praying and hoping that we are once again spared. At the business level, I also encourage managers and owners to get ready for any eventuality and, in particular, increase your stock levels,” the Minister urged.