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By Kadeem Joseph

With today, June 1, marking the official start of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, the Caribbean Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA) is urging Antiguans and Barbudans and residents of other member states to get prepared for possible storms.

Colorado State University predicts this year to have above-normal activity, citing the likely absence of El Niño as a primary factor.

Experts estimate there will be 18 total named storms, with eight of those being hurricanes and three being category three or higher.

Executive Director of CDEMA, Elizabeth Riley, said “preparedness is absolutely critical”.

She added that the forecast for each year functions as a guide, however, disaster officials “always make the point that it can take only one system to have a devastating impact on any of our Caricom states”.

  She is also underscoring the importance of people safeguarding their personal belongings, be it their home, vehicle or documentation.

Riley is also encouraging individuals and communities to adhere to existing Covid-19 protocols in the face of storm threats, especially if sheltering at a public facility becomes necessary.

“Housing in public shelters is limited due to Covid-19 physical distance guidelines. So, where possible, private sheltering may be an appropriate option,” the CDEMA executive said.

To this end, Riley is advising that private homes should be well secured for the season, and in addition to hurricane supplies, extra water and cleaning supplies should also be stocked.

In the event of a hurricane, she is advising that vulnerable persons such as the elderly and physically impaired should be monitored, more than ever.

Antigua and Barbuda last experienced a severe weather event in early November of 2020, after sudden heavy rainfall caused major flooding across the island, damaging major roads, businesses and other infrastructure.

The evidence of the devastating deluge can still be seen across the country today.