The Ministry of Government Support Services alongside the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies would like to remind the public that June 1 was the beginning of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1-Nov. 31.
To date we have had two named storms, with one reaching a category 3 level. This is indicative of the need to always be prepared as storms can indeed occur before the start of the season!
On May 16, hurricane preparedness activities for 2012 was presented to the Advisory Council. As a part of our preparedness activities, the DDME in collaboration with the ministry have taken several measures to ensure our preparedness. These include:
- Training a cadre of persons in urban search and rescue in the event of a collapse building or flooded roads.
- Provision of training in shelter management to over 40 persons. These persons have been drawn from throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands, so as to ensure effectiveness in our spatial capacity to respond. In our efforts to ensure that the needs of all persons, irrespective of colour or creed are unbiasedly addressed, the trainees were selected from the three main language groups represented in the TCI; i.e., English, French-Creole and Spanish.
- Emergency supplies have been procured and warehoused throughout various islands so as to expedite the relief process in the event of an emergency.
- Exercising of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure key stakeholders are familiar with their respective roles in the event we have to activate the Emergency Operating Center (EOC).
- Cleaning of wells, ponds, etc. have commenced in order to reduce flooding.
- Shelters are being equipped with generators throughout the islands.
- Several stakeholders meeting have been held in Grand Turk and Providenciales with heads of departments, supervisors and managers to gauge their level of preparedness and to ensure that they are taking the necessary steps to prepare.
- Community Emergency Response Teams have been developed and trained to assist in preparedness and response activities at the community level.
The government would like to remind all residents that part of being prepared requires them to be proactive in taking steps to ensure their safety and that of their family and their assets. This entails:
- Developing a basic family emergency plan
- Obeying emergency warnings
- Stocking up on emergency supplies such as water, canned food, batteries for flashlight/radios etc.
- Respond with urgency to evacuation advice or warnings
- If you have to evacuate, remember to take food supplies for your entire family for at least 48 hours
TCI government remains committed to ensuring the safety of all residents and visitors of the TCI, not only for this hurricane season but for all possible hazards to which we are vulnerable. We would like to encourage everyone if you have not yet started preparing for this hurricane season that you should do so immediately.
While the government is taking every step to ensure the country’s preparedness, it recognizes that if the people within the TCI do not effectively prepare, than no matter how prepared the government is, the country’s ability to respond and recover quickly will be affected.
As we enter this year’s hurricane season, the ministry and the DDME would like to remind everyone that “Disaster Management is Everyone’s Business.”
Virginia Clerveaux is deputy secretary of the Ministry of Government Support Services.
If you had to survive with no running water, no electricity and no help for days, would you be prepared?
While we always hope this will never happen to us, we all must be prepared.
Each year at the beginning of hurricane season, we are reminded to prepare an emergency kit or update a kit we already have. If you have a kit that you may have prepared in the past, use this opportunity to ensure everything is still there, in working order and not expired.
If you don’t have a kit, use our check list to help you prepare one now. Also be sure to let everyone in your family know where you will keep the kit in case disaster strikes.
In the Turks and Caicos Islands, even a severe rain storm can leave us stuck in our homes, so be sure you are always prepared with a well-stocked emergency kit. Experts recommend having food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days.
Basic emergency supply kit
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
Additional kit items
- Prescription medications and glasses
- Infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
- Cash or traveler’s checks and change
- Emergency reference material such as a first aid book
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Complete change of clothing including a long sleeve shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper. Use nine parts water to one part bleach as a disinfectant. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon to treat water for drinking. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Fire Extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
2012 storm namesPhoto: Workers repair damage after Hurricane Irene in 2011. (Richard Green/Staff)