In this eyewitness photo, one woman is seen looking on with an umbrella along the Bay Road in the vicinity of the Bus Terminal as a vehicle washed away by floodwater is stopped by a bridge near the Public Market during the 2017 hurricane season

PHOTO:In this eyewitness photo, one woman is seen looking on with an umbrella along the Bay Road in the vicinity of the Bus Terminal as a vehicle washed away by floodwater is stopped by a bridge near the Public Market following the passage of a tropical wave in June this year.

Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 01, 2017 (SKNIS)—Cabinet member with responsibility for Chairing the National Disaster Mitigation Council, Deputy Prime Minister the Honourable Shawn Richards, is warning citizens and residents of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis to take all the necessary precautions as early as possible in preparation for Hurricane Irma, which is predicted and projected to impact the country sometime around early morning Wednesday, September 6, 2017, with wind speeds of 125 mph.

“As this is the annual Atlantic Hurricane Season, it bodes well for all citizens and residents to play a major role in their own safety and security during natural disasters,” said the deputy prime minister, as he pledged that the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis will position itself to provide the necessary tools to keep all residents safe during an impact.

A meeting was convened at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Headquarters on September 1 with Heads of Government Ministries, Permanent Secretaries, organizations and key stakeholders, who are first responders in the likely event of a natural disaster, to ensure that the country is ready to deal with the potential impact of Hurricane Irma.

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC)—the official source of advisories, warnings, forecasts, and strike probabilities for all tropical depressions and named storms—the tropical disturbance that has become Irma, has a 90 percent chance of developing into a major tropical cyclone over five days and has defied all of the weather reporting models by rapidly developing ahead of predictions.

The NEMA is asking citizens to take the threat of Hurricane Irma seriously as it has the potential to have some impact on the federation whether it passes close to the islands or not, because of its strength and penchant for rapid development.

National Disaster Coordinator, Carl Herbert, is asking persons to start preparing as early as Friday, September 1 for Irma’s impact.

“Understand how hurricanes can affect where you live, work, go to school and play, and how the weather could impact you, your family and your community. When you understand your risk, you are more likely to know how to prepare. Check the weather forecast regularly, ensuring that you have a battery operated radio along with lots of batteries,” Mr. Herbert said.

According to Senior Met Officer at the St. Kitts Meteorological Services, Elmo Burke, as of 11am on September 1, Hurricane Irma was positioned 18.5 N/37.8 W with a distance of 1420 nautical miles or 2630 km East North East (ENE) from St. Kitts with strength and minimum pressure of 110 mph/972mb. It was moving at West North West (WNW at 13mph.

Deputy Prime Minister Richards reiterated his call for persons to take strong action.

“Pledge to develop an emergency plan with assistance from NEMA and practice how and where you will evacuate if instructed by your emergency management officials. Pledging also provides information on how to strengthen your home and business against hurricanes. When persons are strengthened, individuals receive greater protection, communities become more resilient and the strain on Government’s scarce resources is lessened.