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By Carlena Knight

People living in low lying areas are being urged to be extra vigilant to flooding as the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season gathers momentum.

Director of the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) Philmore Mullin is appealing to the public to be aware of which shelters are available in their areas, as Covid-19 restrictions pose additional challenges.

“Because we are coming out of a drought, any future system that gives us a heavy downpour could create some problems, especially for those living in low lying areas,” Mullin explained.

“The earth will not be absorbing volumes of water as rapidly as it should and so the velocity of the run-off will be faster and could impact those in low lying areas in a very negative way and so if it is we have to issue an evacuation of persons in those areas then I want to appeal to them at this point, you need to take those evacuation orders seriously.

“Continue to monitor what is happening now that the Sahara dust has been somewhat suppressed and the opportunity for more systems … is very high and so we need to monitor and take the necessary precautions if the need arises.”

The director advised property owners to pay special attention to gardens too. When pruning trees, debris should be collected and disposed of correctly so it cannot blow away. This, he says, could cause serious damage to not only homes but lives.

“When people prune their trees, they don’t always follow up to get them away. They leave them in their yards and then if we have heavy downpours they wash away and most naturally get into the drainage system and could create additional problems,” Mullin explained.

“So please, when you are pruning your trees, don’t prune the trees when a storm is already on its way; do that early and when you accumulate the choppings get someone to take them away because they get into the water course and they can create blockage and cause areas that are not prone to flood to flood.”

The NODS boss reminded property owners that it is their responsibility to trim trees, but some assistance is offered to the elderly and physically disabled.

Mullin also advised people to avoid planting trees too close to their homes or under electrical and phone wires. These, he said, could become dangerous during a storm with strong winds as branches could damage homes and threaten the electrical system.

He added that pet owners should also consider their animals, saying it is their responsibility to find them safe refuge in the event of a storm as animals are not allowed in public shelters.

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