Turks and Caicos, May 11, 2017 – Providenciales – My Fellow residents and visitors to the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), as Minister with responsibility for Disaster Risk Management, it is one of my top priorities not solely during the Hurricane Season, but throughout the year and for all potential hazards. As disaster events can occur at any time, my Government and I are committed to building capacity within the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies (DDME) and by extension building resilience throughout the TCI.
I have committed in the 2017/18 budget to address the need for a purpose built National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC) with Warehouse facilities, two snorkel vehicles to traverse flooded roads during emergencies, emergency radio communication upgrade and retrofitting of shelters. I am also committed going forward to provide DDME with the requisite human resources that it need to effectively and timely carry out its duties.
Acknowledging the potential impact of a hurricane or high intensity weather system on the TCI’s economic prospects in particular, it is critical that we engage in proactive measures to mitigate any adverse effects. The TCI like many other Small Island Developing States within the Caribbean region, is heavily dependent on tourism as the main income generator. Tourism resources and related assets and activities are mainly located along the coast line and as such, are extremely exposed and vulnerable to the ravages of climatic hazards.
Let us be reminded that the effect of a hurricane impact on tourism is not confined to related infrastructure and assets, but can have a rippling effect throughout the entire economy and every aspect of our livelihood.
Additionally, let us remember the devastating impact on our economy, society and environment as a result of the passage of Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike in 2008. The level of impact to our well-being from events such as Hanna and Ike was directly related to our level of preparedness and the extent to which our resilience capacity has been established. In fact, it is not about whether or not a hurricane will hit but a matter of when. Unfortunately, no Scientist, Meteorological Office or the DDME is able to predict ‘when’. Therefore, I would like to advocate every Government Department, Ministry, resident, private sector entities, NGO, Churches, Civic groups to adhere to the DDME’s Hurricane Awareness Month theme ‘to prepare for the unexpected.’
I urge you to remain in a constant state of preparedness from June 1 to November 30, as these are the hurricane season months. I would like to encourage you to participate in DDME activities as advertised, prepare an emergency plan and be vigilant throughout the Season. Emphasis is placed on the Business community, especially Tourism Service Providers to devise and test Continuity Plans. Remember, the more prepared we are and the more we invest in building resilience, the less will be the impact we suffer and the better able we will be to recovery quickly and effectively following impact.
The Ministry will continue to be pivotal in the National Disaster Management Framework by ensuring partner agencies and security services maintain healthy work relationships throughout the year and especially so during the Hurricane Season.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the staff of DDME who has worked tirelessly throughout the year in preparing not just for Hurricane Season but the various other hazards that the TCI is vulnerable to.
Lastly, may we have a safe Hurricane Season 2017 and May God Bless You and Bless the Beautiful Turks and Caicos Islands.
Press Release: TCIG