Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has said the government is taking Hurricane Irma seriously and is urging the public to take precautionary measures as it approaches the Leeward Islands and the northern Windward Islands.
Dominica is now under a Tropical Storm Watch, meaning tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, in this case within 24-36 hours.
“We do not know what this weather system is going to do to our country and therefore the action which we have and which we can take, we should take them,” he said while speaking on Kairi’s Heng Programme on Monday. “We should take precautionary measures. Government is taking this storm very seriously.”
According to Skerrit, the public knows better than everybody else in the world that “we cannot afford any damage to our country.”
“We cannot afford $10 damage caused by a storm,” he remarked.
Skerrit stated further that the government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in response to Tropical Storm Erika which devastated the country two years ago and therefore, “what we can do to mitigate against a potential storm, we need to take action.”
“I do not want us to go and say well it’s going further north and is away from Dominica, the storm can move directions within half an hour, within an hour, within half a day, within a day and therefore we need to prepare and prepare properly,” he noted.
He encouraged the public to listen to the radio and television to receive formal official updates from the Office of Disaster Management.
At a meeting of the National Emergency Planning Organization (NEPO) on Monday, September 4th at the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) in Jimmit, he said action has to be taken at all levels.
“We have to take the actions that we want to take at all levels, because I can say to you, as the Prime Minister of this country, I am not taking this storm lightly at all. So we have to prepare for the worst, if the nothing happens to us then we go on our knees and thank God for that,” he said.
He added that although there will be a high level of anxiety, he prefers for this anxiety to not cause paralysis and prevent the people from taking the actions which must be taken.
Considering the uncertainty of the inclement weather, the Prime Minister stated that it is better to be prepared early enough so that when certain issues arise, provisions would have already been made to mitigate the situations.
“In the event that something were to visit us, we would be in a situation to minimize its impact … but at least the drains would have been cleared, the bridges would have cleared, we would have minimized on the hazards around our homes and around our properties so that we minimize on the damage,” he stated.
Skerrit said he is generally satisfied with the state of preparedness so far by NEPO, however, there are few things that must be tweaked to enhance efficiency.
“There are some things that we need to follow up on and there are various meetings this morning going into the afternoon to go over some of the actions and to ensure that, from a NEPO standpoint, all of the actions that we can humanly take are taken, or things that have to be put in place are put in place,” he stated.