July 8, 2013 – My fellow Saint Lucians, citizens, one and all, at eleven o’clock last night, Sunday, July 7, the Met Office in Saint Lucia issued the first tropical storm warning advisory for Saint Lucia for this 2013 Hurricane Season.
This is due to the impending arrival of Tropical Storm Chantal, whose current and probable track will have her centre of activity passing over or to the north of Saint Lucia or the Saint Lucia Channel.
Tropical storm warnings are also in effect for the islands of Barbados, Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe.
The National Emergency Operations Centre has been activated and as chair of the National Emergency Management Advisory Committee, NEMAC, I wish to advise all persons and establishments to take the necessary precautions for the protection of your families and property.
So far, this tropical weather system has not been categorised as a hurricane. However, we know fully well, as was the case with Tropical Storm Debbie, that Tropical Storms can bring severe damage in the form of flooding, landslides and storm surges along our coasts.
We expect this storm to begin affecting our island by early Tuesday morning. Our rivers and soils are already saturated thanks to steady rainfall over the past few weeks. So, we should be extremely mindful of the potential for flooding.
I urge you at this time to remember some basic rules as we prepare for the storm. Persons in low-lying and flood-prone areas should be extremely vigilant.
Please ensure that you have sufficient non-perishable food and drinking water as well as other basic living requirements.
Fishermen and small craft operators are reminded to remain at port and secure their boats. Sea-bathers, tempting as it may be, should avoid the sea.
By now, you should have already ensured, to the best of your ability, that nearby drains are clear of debris.
In the event of an evacuation order that affects your home and community, act swiftly and promptly. In the meantime, take note of the location of the nearest shelter in your area.
Both George F. L. Charles and Hewanorra International Airports will remain closed until the all clear has been given by the Office of the Prime Minister. Persons expecting to travel should contact their respective airlines to obtain the status of their flights and other details prior to coming to the Airports. If you are scheduled to pick-up a passenger, please contact your party to obtain the status of their flight.
You are urged to tune in the local radio and television stations for regular updates.
All schools will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday July 9, until Wednesday, unless advised otherwise. Business establishments will remain closed tomorrow morning until the “all clear” signal is given. Likewise, Government Ministries and Departments will be closed for business tomorrow but staff should remain on standby in the event additional manpower is required.
REMAIN AT HOME
This should not be seen as an opportunity to go on an excursion or to go exploring. The purpose of this is to ensure that you remain safe at home, and that you are available to assist your neighbours and community, if necessary and if safety permits.
Again, I remind you to stay at home and, as much as possible, monitor the news and weather updates, particularly via the radio.
NO NEED FOR FEAR
While I ask everyone to be prepared, I also ask you not to fear. At these times, we must hold strong, take all necessary precautions and pray that God’s omniscient, omnipotent countenance and mercy might always be with our land.
You are reminded of the need to always be prepared; to be wise, to be careful, to be on guard. And so, as we expect Tropical Storm Chantal, we must remember that no warning should go unheeded.
My fellow Saint Lucians, I wish you a safe night and God’s protection.