ScotiaFoundation urges schools to improve preparation for hurricane season

ScotiaFoundation is urging schools across the country to prepare for the hurricane season by applying the lessons learnt from the after effects of Hurricane Sandy which caused destruction and disruption to schools in 2012. Joylene Griffiths-Irving, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, reviewed the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to schools in St. Mary, Portland and St. Thomas and identified several common areas where preparedness could have been strengthened.

"We noted that some of the disruption and damage could have been prevented by taking measures such as: installing hurricane straps, placing tarpaulins over windows and walls with decorative blocks; putting plastics over photocopy machines, computers and other electronic equipment; placing books stashed in lower shelves to a higher level; and securing unused food items in canteens, in airtight containers," Mrs. Griffith-Irving said.

She is urging schools to conduct audits of their plants and to seek the support of their communities to prepare for and mitigate against the risks inherent with major hurricanes. She said the community support is key to protecting schools in the face of natural disasters and that where disaster plans were not in place, schools could consider making this a priority. "Funding is often quite tight but we encourage schools to engage their PTAs, alumni, local businesses, skilled persons in the community to help them first plan, then methodically secure items that can help prevent costly financial and operational loss time in the event of a hurricane.

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Management Agency (CDEMA) is predicting that the 2013 hurricane season will be very active. The season officially began on June 1 and will end on November 30. Jamaica has not yet recovered from the aftermath of last October's Hurricane Sandy. The damage estimated by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) was approximately $10 billion. Several schools located in the north-eastern, eastern, and south-eastern parishes sustained damages with schools located in St. Mary and Portland among the worst affected.

The ScotiaFoundation and Bright Future, Scotiabank's international philanthropy programme, donated $8M to and oversaw the repair of Highgate Primary, Carron Hall All-Age, Carron Hall Infant, Belfield Primary and Zion Hill Primary in St. Mary and the Norwich Primary school in Portland.

"How great it would be to reduce risks and expenses caused by Hurricane damage and channel those funds to school development instead. Our intervention last year has shown us that a little support can make a big difference to how schools fare," Mrs. Griffith-Irving said.

The ScotiaFoundation has made consistent, major contribution to education since its inception in 1996. It's work has included, scholarships; providing equipment and tools to schools; funding research at the tertiary level; and maintaining nutritious breakfast programmes in primary schools.