Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre emerged from chairing a National Emergency Management Advisory Committee (NEMAC) meeting Thursday morning, telling reporters that the gathering went well.
“We had a very good meeting of NEMAC. All the agencies reported, and we seem to be in a state of readiness,” Pierre said as Saint Lucia braced for the impact of Tropical Storm Bret.
Pierre appealed to people to listen only to official advice and not rumours.
In addition, he reiterated that people should stop disposing of garbage indiscriminately.
“Littering causes a problem. If you look in our waterways now, you will see mattresses. You will see fridges; you will see stoves. They ought not to be there,” the Castries East MP observed.
He spoke as Saint Lucia activated its National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) from noon Thursday.
The Director of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), Maria Medard, disclosed receiving a request to open a shelter.
“That shelter will comprise four persons initially,” Medard stated.
But she told reporters that normally shelters open after the storm.
However, she said a shelter would open before a storm if an assessment reveals someone’s home has been compromised.
According to the NEMO Director, it costs the state whenever a shelter opens.
“We have 236 shelters. So we open as needed when people request,” Medard told reporters.
Regarding an all-clear, she noted that before, there were two, one from the Met Office and the other from NEMO.
But Medard acknowledged that two all-clears were confusing the public.
“So since then, over the last three years what we have done is that Met issues a discontinuation of the storm. So when they put out the notice to say that we are safe from the storm, it is not the all-clear,” the NEMO Director observed.
“So from then, the director would call the emergency works personnel, such as (the Ministry of) Infrastructure, FLOW, LUCELEC etc. to check around to make sure that downed power lines are up,” Medard told reporters.
She said the director would advise the Prime Minister to issue an all-clear once that occurs.
“Now, this all-clear is to the public. The one by Met is not to the public,” Medard stated.
And she said the Prime Minister might decide that he would issue the all-clear himself or advise the NEMO Director to do so.