Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 15, 2020 (SKNIS): Gene Knight, who is the National Housing and Shelter subcommittee Chair on the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC), has stated that his committee is ensuring that all shelters are identified and functioning in all types of disasters.
“Very often when we hear about shelters we think hurricane shelters, but we are responsible for having shelter for all types of disasters or emergencies,” he said during the April 14 National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Daily Briefing. “In doing this we have to ensure the physical integrity of those buildings chosen as shelters, ensure adequate sanitary facilities are available in all buildings and importantly we have to revise the list and submit a list to the disaster management by May the 15th of each year.”
Mr. Knight stated that the inspections are usually done in the months of February and March. He added that in 2019 a shelter inspection week was introduced in the second week of February.
“This year we would have completed all of the inspections of the potential shelters,” he said.
On St. Kitts, there are usually 50 venues which are inspected half of which are government owned including community centres and several sporting facilities. The other half is primarily church properties and organizations who allow their facilities to be used.
There are two types of designations for shelters including the primary shelters, which are used and occupied for one week or more. They are usually government facilities. The other facilities are called secondary shelters, which are occupied for two or three days.
As the hurricane season is fast approaching, Mr. Knight stated that all citizens and residents should stay up to date with information about shelters made available during a hurricane.
He stated that the current shelter list was announced in September 2019 and is still valid.
“Withstanding that, whenever there is an emergency or a potential emergency, the public needs to listen and to see if there are any variations in this list,” he said. “This is because sometimes after the list has been published there may be incidences of vandalism for instance, which may render a venue unusable, or at times the organization which has offered the venue for use has an alternative use. So, the public has to stay tuned to which shelters are available.”