By: Harold G. Bailey
KINGSTON, Jamaica Monday, October 3,2016
Jamaican authorities stepped up emergency preparations across the Island Sunday, as powerful storm Matthew approached, bringing heavy rains and flooding to several communities in and around the capital Kingston.
Weather experts said the category 4 storm — already packing winds of 145 miles per hour (mph) , 230 kph – is expected to make land fall on the eastern end of the Island by night fall today.
Prime minister Andrew Holness has been leading the efforts to prepare residents for what is being described as the worst possible storm to hit the Island since record keeping began.
In Kingston and the sprawling municipality of Portmore to its south west, residents have been stocking up on canned foods, Flash lights, fuel, and water.
Members of the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF)have been deployed throughout the Island, to assist in search and rescue efforts, if the situation arises. Busses have been provided to evacuate residents of Port Royal, situated at the eastern edge of Kingston and near to the Norman Manley International Airport where flights have been canceled.
While many residents in areas considered as danger zones have heeded advise to evacuate, some have refused. Speaking at a press conference late Sunday, Desmond McKenzie, the minister of Local Government, expressed concern about the safety of 30 people on a small Island situated of the mainland.” They remain there “despite efforts by the JDF to evacuate,” he said. He argued that ” the safety of first responders cannot be put at risk for those who fail to heed evacuation warnings.”
The minister made the comments after disclosing that a father and son on the small Island off the mainland have made urgent pleas to be evacuated.