Distinguished citizens, residents.
Once again, our nation is facing the prospect of severe weather conditions with Hurricane Tammy, the high is right on our doorstep.
With the memories of the ravages of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and the devastation on our sister island of Barbuda, along with the recent passage of Tropical Storm Phillippe still fresh in our collective memories; I encourage everyone to be vigilant and to ensure that the necessary precautions are made to minimize the possible effects of the storm.
A Hurricane Warning (HW) is now in effect for Antigua and Barbuda.
It is therefore imperative that as a nation vulnerable to the effects of climate change, that we assume collective responsibility for our safety.
Our ability to withstand the onslaught of this storm as a nation, is directly related to the responsibility taken by each individual.
We often say that a chain is as strong as its weakest link, because one weak link can cause the entire chain to break.
Facing the prospect of this hurricane, we cannot afford for there to be any weak links within our communities.
Therefore, my fellow citizens, residents, friends; I urge you to do your part, to mitigate the impact of this impending hurricane:
protect your property and family, by securing glass windows and doors; ensure that you cut overgrown trees and shrubs, particularly those that threaten your property; the drains within close proximity to your homes and businesses should be cleaned, so that waterways are not blocked thereby creating the potential for flooding.
While the relevant agencies such as the Central Board Health, National Solid Waste Management Authority, National Office of Disaster Services, and APUA have their part to play with the cleaning of drains and pruning of trees; in order to minimize any potential damage from the storm, it is absolutely imperative that property owners play their part and not simply to depend solely on these agencies.
Hurricane Tammy is projected to bring rainfall of about 8 to 12 inches.
I hasten to remind, that Tropical Storm Philippe, just two short weeks ago, brought about eight inches of rainfall in some areas.
This means therefore, that the earth is still somewhat saturated and with additional rainfall, the potential for flooding is elevated.
Consequently, for those persons living in low lying areas and other areas prone to flooding, as your Prime Minister and friend, I urge you to take immediate steps to ensure that you and your family remain safe.
Do not wait until the storm is bearing down upon us to seek help.
The National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) has published a list of shelters and has indicated that at least one shelter per constituency will be opened.
In the even that more shelters need to be opened, that decision will be communicated to all media houses by NODS.
Please check the schedule to know the shelter closest to you and take refuge there before flood waters begin to rise.
Our government is very much aware of the negative impact that severe weather can have on the agriculture sector and fishing sectors.
While there is not much that can be done to mitigate damage to crops, it is important that livestock farmers secure animals to ensure their safety.
Boat owners should also endeavour to get their boats to safe harbour as soon as possible. The Antigua Port Authoirty will assist boat owners to lift their boats out of the water to secure them.
Our government is committed to ensuring food security for our country and we will mobilize resources if necessary, to ensure that any damage to our food sector is lessened.
Citizens, resident, friends…. As we face the prospect of Hurricane Tammy, I invite you to kneel at the sacred altar and invoke the aid of Deity.
We pray that Almighty God will continue to stretch his protective hands over our nation of Antigua and Barbuda.
As our National Anthem prayerfully invokes: “God of nations, let Thy blessings/Fall upon this land of ours.”
At this time, therefore, I invite all citizens, residents, and friends of this nation to join, as we humbly seek God’s favour and protection.
Let us ask for the light of his countenance to cheerfully shine upon our unitary state.
Be safe !
I thank you.