Month: August 2011

An Above average 2011 Hurricane Season predicted

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Be Prepared and stay prepared!!!!!

 

 The 2011 Atlantic Hurricane season is expected to see comparableactivity to a number of active seasons since 1995, due to the expected continuation of above-average sea surface temperatures in the Tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, which are conducive to a more active season. To date we have seen nine named storms so far.

 The 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season was significantly more active than the normal season. 19 tropical storms developed, tying with 1995 for the third highest number of storms on record, 12 of the storms became hurricanes – five of which were major hurricanes at category three or higher. The active 2010 season was credited to the warm sea surface temperatures.  Weather experts have updated their 2011 Atlantic hurricane season outlook by raising the number of expected named storms from its pre-season outlook issued in May. Forecasters also increased their confidence that 2011 will be an active Atlantic hurricane season. “The atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean are primed for high hurricane activity during August through October,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center.  “Storms through October will form more frequently and become more intense than we’ve seen so far this season.” Key climate factors predicted in May continue to support an active season. These include: exceptionally warm Atlantic Ocean temperatures (the third warmest on record); reduced vertical wind shear and lower air pressure across the tropical Atlantic also favor an active season. Based on these conditions and on climate model forecasts, the confidence for an above-normal season has increased from 65 percent in May to 85 percent. Also, the expected number of named storms has increased from 12-18 in May to 14-19, and the expected number of hurricanes has increased from 6-10 in May to 7-10. Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the whole season – June 1 to November 30 – the updated seasonal outlook projects, with a 70 percent probability, a total of:
  • 14 to 19 named storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
  • 7 to 10 hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
  • 3 to 5 could be major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)
These ranges are indicative of an active season, and extend well above the long-term seasonal averages of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. The Atlantic basin has already produced several tropical storms this season: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don and Emily, Franklyn, Gert and Katia. We have also had Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Irene which has caused much damage from the northern Caribbean up to the Eastern seaboard of the USA. It is still early in this hurricane season and we know it can take only one storm to devastate communities and families. This is hurricane season, if you haven't already, now is the time to take a few simple steps to get you and your family prepared. The Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Services will monitor the development of all systems and any other severe weather situations which threaten the Leeward Islands of which Montserrat is a part, and if necessary, issue statements, watches or warnings, through our local met office at the J. A. Osborne Airport.  The Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA) wishes to remind that Hurricanes are multi-hazard systems with possible dangerous effects from not just strong winds but storm surges and coastal flooding, torrential rains leading to flooding and landslides.  Remember, awareness and good preparedness/readiness are essential to limiting loss of life and minimizing damage to property.  The names prepared for the 2011 hurricane season are : Arlene, Brett, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince and Whitney.

Involving Communities in Disaster risk Management: A Call to Action

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Experience has shown that the effects of disasters on smaller nations like Montserrat are long lasting and more severe than in developed countries, (Montserrat after sixteen years of volcanic crisis is still grappling with redevelopment) often depleting scarce financial resources and diverting essential funds towards post-disaster relief and reconstruction. Disasters also disrupt business activities on which the local population depends, affecting livelihood recovery and means to earn a living. This is particularly true when new skills are needed for new types of jobs. Part of the problem is inadequate attention to disaster risk prevention and management as an economic and business issue. If the frequency and impact of natural and industrial disasters continue to rise, economic and human development will be badly affected. Disaster management should therefore be seen also as a strategy to protect the growth potential of the island’s (Montserrat’s) communities. A much closer interaction between government and communities is needed to ensure appropriate risk reduction strategies, adequate measures for implementation of protection and security measures, and a liability and insurance regime that takes proper account of the needs of the community and business sector alike. Private sector entities also have a large untapped potential to help provide skilled services in the form of technical manpower or in-kind donations of goods or services for preparedness & emergency response phase of disaster management. It is obvious that the roles of Government, the private sector and communities are multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary, including those listed below and more:
    • In defining, assigning and implementing clear and coherent institutional roles. In training, equipping and achieving proficiency for effective response capacity for high risk communities
    • In assessing institutional needs, developing and implementing programmes to assist key organizations with sustainability issues and measures
    • In improving disaster consciousness of the general population
    • In improving access to accurate information and basic communication, health, energy and water systems for high-risk communities by facilitating appropriate technology alternatives to qualifying communities.
At the same time, local authorities need to provide a more effective framework for unleashing the full potential of public sector contribution. This framework can include policies that contribute directly to greater community involvement in disaster management programmes. Mechanisms whereby the general public and the authorities meet to discuss and make contributions to national disaster security need to be set up and operationalized on a regular basis. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to state that the contributions of communities especially in theMontserrat context in mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery activities have been woefully underestimated.
  1. Local authorities through their different agencies need to interact more frequently with the public to fulfill necessary community disaster functions. Therefore, the lines between government and the public would not appear to be disappearing, blurring, or even artificial.
  2. Many functions, such as public information, removal of debris and emergency medical care, could not be adequately performed without the assistance of communities.
  3. Planning meetings, communications capability, and cooperation are mentioned as variables that promoted close collaboration.
  4. Methods of educating and involving communities in emergency management must be promoted. Public officials and agencies should include, where possible, the communities (especially at the District Disaster Committees’ level) in all types of disaster prevention and planning activities.
After all, we at the Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA) look at mitigation as the “cornerstone” of emergency management. Nowadays, the number and seriousness of disasters is increasing, disproportionately affecting poor communities. The recorded number of disasters, the number of people they affect and the property losses they cause, have risen dramatically with each passing decade  More than half of disaster deaths occur in low human development countries and islands, even though a very small percentage of people exposed to hazards live there. These islands and countries suffer far greater economic losses relative to their GDP than richer countries. Their capacity to reduce risk is also much more limited.  .

Family Disaster Preparedness

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Prepare your family to take care of yourself in the event of a disaster Five steps to family disaster preparedness:
  1. Talk with your family about disasters that could happen including home fires, hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, and hazardous materials accidents etc.
  2. Train all family members in the basic things to do before relocating (like locate and shut off utilities (electricity and water). Know where you are going before venturing from your own house.(nearest shelter etc).
  3. Take stock of supplies you may already have on hand that would be helpful in a disaster. Put together a disaster supplies kit. Involve the whole family in collecting and assembling supplies of food, water, and emergency tools.
  4. Tell everyone in the household where emergency contact information will be kept. Complete an emergency contact list.
  5. Test your readiness on a regular basis. Review your family disaster plan and go through supplies at least once a year. Make sure to include the six basics in your family disaster kit:
    • Water
    • Food
    • First Aid Supplies
    • Clothing and Bedding
    • Emergency Supplies
    • Special Items
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