‘Pray for the safety of the country,’ Holness urges Jamaicans

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

While encouraging Jamaicans not to “panic” as Hurricane Beryl approaches the island, Prime Minister Andrew Holness is not ruling out divine intervention as he urged citizens to pray for the safety of the nation.

“I am a firm believer in prayer, and I would urge all Jamaicans now to pray for the safety of the country,” declared Holness at a press conference held on Monday, during which updates on the island’s preparedness for the historic weather system were provided.

The prime minister recalled that in 2016, Hurricane Matthew threatened the island. 

“It was on its way; it was a certain hit, and then, inexplicably, it turned to the north,” Holness recounted.

“God is good. All the time, God is good,” he said with some persons attending the press conference joining in.

Hurricane Beryl is projected to approach the island as a category two system, down from its current category four status.

“At this point in time, I’m encouraging all Jamaicans to take the hurricane as a serious threat. It is, however, not a time for panic. It is a time for us to be very strategic and calculated in our approach. We have 48 hours in which to prepare,” Holness advised. 

At the same time, he said a lot could happen within that 48-hour period. 

“But we are taking this precautionary stance now, because it is easier to be prepared when you’re standing on your two feet than when you’re in the midst of a hurricane struck down,” Holness asserted, adding that the Government is not being “overly cautious” or in “a panic mode”. 

Among those usual precautionary measures individuals should take during the event of a major weather system, Holness told Jamaicans to have their supply of food to last them for two or three days. 

“… And that should be, preferably, water, most importantly, portable water for drinking, and canned foods to ensure that you can last for three days if the storm is of that impact that it prevents you from being able to get supplies at supermarkets and corner shops,” he said.

In the event of electrical and water services being disrupted during the passage of the hurricane, the prime minister said citizens must have candles, lamps, generators, and batteries in place.

For generators, he reminded persons to place them outside in a bid to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, which, he said, “could easily wipe out an entire family”.

With the possibility of high winds stemming from the hurricane, Holness said there will likely be impacts on roofs and windows.

“So, if you have objects that are in your home and in your vicinity that are not secured, those could become missiles in the event of high winds, so you would want to secure those as much as you can,” he stated. 

In addition, he also suggested that aggregates and other building materials in communities under construction should be secured, which will prevent them from washing into drains and contributing to flooding events. 

Most importantly, the prime minister appealed to persons living in low-lying areas that they should “take action now”. 

He advised such persons to get in touch with their family members, and start making the necessary preparations for evacuation. 

“Listen out to the media, particularly the Government media entity, JIS (Jamaica Information Service), where the necessary warnings and updates will be given periodically… to help you with your decision making,” Holness said.

Holness, while noting that drain cleaning is ongoing, said it is still likely that several areas in the country will be flooded should the rains which have been predicted come with the hurricane.

To that end, he implored Jamaicans to take the necessary precautions and protect their space, including the utilisation of sand bags, or other measures to protect the entry ways of their homes from flood water.