It only takes one! It only takes one tropical cyclone to affect our lives and the lives and livelihoods of countless others.
Fellow citizens, residents, and visitors of our beloved twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, as we usher in the commencement of the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season which runs from 1 June to 30th November, I appeal to all to be prepared!
Be prepared for any eventuality that may befall us as a nation during this hurricane season.
We must remember that it was only one tropical system in September 1995 namely Hurricane Luis that wreaked havoc on our nation and that beyond the physical damage, the mental and emotional effects continued to be felt many years later if not up to the present by some.
It was only one system a few years ago in September 2017 namely Hurricane Irma that decimated our beautiful sister island of Barbuda and though the recovery was challenging we rebounded well.
We as a nation, and people have shown much resilience to be able to rebound from adversity whether natural or otherwise. However, these feats should not replace our need to be consistently prepared for hurricanes or any other natural hazards.
This was quite evident in the flooding of November 2020 which caught many of us by surprise as we were suddenly inundated by large volumes of rainfall within a short period of time.
Though it brought some temporary relief to our ongoing drought situation it also created some damage to some of our housing stock, road networks and drains to name a few. Let us not be complacent but be in a state of readiness as we journey into the hurricane season and beyond.
The predictions for this hurricane season have stated that an above-normal season is likely. Whatever the predictions are it only takes one to impact us and to change the course of personal and economic growth and prosperity which we all aim to achieve. It only takes one to set us back from the gains that have been made since the last major impact and the gains made in Barbuda after the ravages and catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Irma.
We as a nation and people have since learned from the many lessons identified after the impact of each disaster. We have since built better and stronger; and we have educated our people on the preparation and response mechanisms that are currently in place to deal with any eventuality.
However, this level of comfort should not be replaced by complacency and everyone should do what is required of them, their families and communities to safeguard against or lessen the impacts of natural hazards. Page 3 of 4 The time to be prepared is now!
Though your preparations should have already started it’s not too late for you to start putting your disaster plans in order whether as a family, religious organization, school, commercial entity, government or non-governmental organization.
The National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) takes pride in providing you and members of our various communities with the necessary information for you to be disaster prepared.
I also urge you to remain committed to receiving information from credible sources as you monitor the happenings throughout the season. Do not be persuaded to act based on misinformation and disinformation.
This could only cause unnecessary fear and panic in the face of concerted actions in the preservation of life, property and livelihoods. I call on all able-bodied persons within our various disaster districts and communities to be prepared. Be prepared to assist your fellow villagers and the nation should the need arise.
An “all hands on deck approach” will be required should we be hit this hurricane season. It will take the efforts of all persons to assist the Government and all responding agencies to ensure that our nation is up and running within the shortest possible time.
This will ensure that the affected lives and livelihoods will be on the road to recovery soonest, creating some sense of normalcy. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda stands committed to all organizations charged with the nation’s safety and security during this period. We also stand resolute with all responding agencies and will spare no effort to ensure that the necessary resources are provided should the need arise.
Our commitment which was seen in the past, during times of misfortune still stands today. As I close, I once again call upon every citizen, and resident to be prepared for this hurricane season and every other natural hazard that may likely impact us, for it only takes one.
May God help us all as we journey through this season and may He continue to bless our beautiful and much-loved twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. Thank you and God bless.