GET READY! The dry season officially began yesterday and the forecast doesn’t look too good. That was the prediction of meteorologist Arlene Aaron-Morrison of the Meteorological Service, at the Office of Disaster Preparedness Management (ODPM) alternate National Emergency Operations Centre in Mausica on Thursday.
Aaron-Morrison said, “There is the possibility that at the end of May 2020, we have to look out for a drought. (There is a) possibility of less dry spells in the earlier part of the season. Temperatures would be warmer than usual.”
The dry season ends on June 30.
Also at the meeting of several disaster units was acting divisional fire officer John Harper, who said:
“All fires are illegal except the one under your pot. Anyone desiring to burn anything must obtain a fire permit in the district that the intended burning would take place and the cost is $10.”
He said preparations for the dry season had already started.
“We have employed the fire guardians, who would start duties from December 1 (yesterday). They would be deployed through the country. They would visit the citizens to educate them in the different aspects of fire preventions as it relates to bush fires and slash and burn, the latter being a major concern for the fire service.”
The fire guardians will visit sites where people want to have fires, and specialist search and rescue personnel will deal with fires on mountainous and treacherous terrain.
Jerrod Farrier, a forester with the Ministry of Agriculture Land and Fisheries’ Forestry Division, said the division needed some equipment to be fully prepared for the expected harsh dry season.
“Because of the beating the equipment gets, some need replacing and we’re raising funds for specialist tools like fire beaters and pulaskis (used to dig fire lines), to name a few, he said.”
He admitted communication has been a problem in the past, as using cellphones was not practicable, so the division was about to revert to two-way radios.
Fire traces, he said, will be made up and then across the entire Northern Range to stop fires spreading from one mountain to another. That process has already begun.
Farrier said the ministry uses fire towers, but most are in need of repair, and one needs to be demolished and rebuilt. The cost of a tower is estimated at $1.6 million, he said.
“Bush fire destroys homes, livelihoods and lives.” Those were the words of Jerry David, senior disaster co-ordinator at the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government, who said:
“In Diego Martin, 5,000 trees were received from Forestry and were planted in the area that overlooks St Anthony’s College and St Finbar’s Church. It was totally burnt out in 2010.
“Before the trees were replanted, the speed of the water coming down the hillside was horrific and there was a lot of flooding in the Goodwood Gardens area. When replanting, the holes are prepped and citizens and residents have the opportunity to plant a tree. One thousand trained community emergency response team members would hit the streets to do mitigation work, to discuss the scourges of bush fires and not only to prevent fires.”
Most house fires take place in the dry season, caused by unsupervised, unauthorised burning of debris. CEO of the ODPM, former chief of defence staff, Maj Gen (Ret’d) Rodney Smart, said, “We have to start preparing TT for what may happen if we do have an intense dry season, both in terms of wildfires and drought conditions.”