Friday 14 August, 2020

St Lucia needs more shelters for hurricane season due to COVID-19

Director of the NEMO, Dorine Gustave

Director of the NEMO, Dorine Gustave

Director of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), Dorine Gustave says there is a need for more emergency shelters during the active hurricane season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Miss Gustave notes that while NEMO began preparing for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season way in advance of the official June 1 opening, the organisation realized the need for more disaster shelters under the current circumstances.

"What we have realised is that we need a lot more shelters. COVID, because of the social distancing, we need shelters to accommodate people and so we have to identify alternative shelters in communities," Miss Gustave noted.

Just recently, Minister of Infrastructure Stephenson King told the media that the disaster shelters across the island were renovated and prepared to accept citizens affected as a result of a hurricane or disaster.

However, NEMO is of a different opinion.

"Some of the shelters that were on the list from last year were not up to standard and so moving forward we want to ensure that all of the shelters are certified for the hurricane season," Gustave declared. 

The process, she explained, is a difficult one but she noted that the Ministry of Infrastructure is working closely with the District Disaster Committees in ensuring other shelters are identified and up to standard.

"We have to ensure that shelters can at least withstand a category three hurricane, bearing in mind we go up to category five. We have to ensure that these shelters can withstand the new normal for hurricanes and so it is difficult to identify shelters. 

We saw what happened in Dominica, BVI, the Bahamas last year and so storms have no mercy... the strength, the level of rainfall, and the sea surge, all of these things we have to take into consideration and so we want to ensure that our shelters are able to withstand that kind of impact."

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: