Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Captain Stephen Russell remarks at NEMA Hurricane Preparedness Press Conference

Press Conference
Sunday, May 31, 2020 @3pm

Hurricane Preparedness, 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Theme: “Building a Disaster Resilient Bahamas”
Remarks: Captain Stephen Russell
Director, The National Emergency Management Agency

Good afternoon Bahamas,

As you already heard and are aware, the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins tomorrow – Monday June 1 and runs through to November 30. We are adopting the theme: “Building a Disaster Resilient Bahamas”.

The wrath of Hurricane Dorian on the islands of Grand Bahama and North Abaco and the Abaco Cays is still fresh in our minds as; coupled with the COVID-19 Pandemic.

We must all do our part to safeguard our families, homes, properties, businesses and those things we hold most dear. Self-preservation is the first law of nature.

Meanwhile, NEMA will do its part in mitigating, preparing, responding and coordinating all efforts through its Emergency Support Function groupings, Non-Governmental Organizations, local and International Partners to tackle this hurricane season and any disaster, natural or man-made.

At this time, I would like to share 5 basic steps of the National Disaster Plan, which would assist in guiding us through this 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

However, be mindful that it is a working plan and it would be adjusted in order to meet the disaster at hand.

Once NEMA is advised by the Bahamas Department of Meteorology that a storm is a clear and present danger to any part of The Bahamas, the following steps are put in motion:

In the event of a hurricane, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) initiates a five (5)-phase plan to facilitate disaster response and recovery. 

Phase 1:

The Bahamas Meteorological Department (MET Office) contacts The Director of NEMA to issue a Hurricane Alert. At this time, the Director, as the National Disaster Coordinator issues the order to partially activate the National Emergency Operating Centre (NEOC) and advises the Permanent Secretary and the Minister of State for the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, Secretary to the Cabinet and the Prime Minister.

Phase 2:

During this phase, the Prime Minister is advised on the threat level of the approaching hurricane and possibility of evacuations and addresses the public. Once a Hurricane alert is given, the public should begin to engage in the following activities:

     Put your Family Plan into ACTION, ensuring that everyone in your household performs their tasks.
    Prepare your home and office with supplies well in advance
    Practice your plan-taking note of any glitches so that you can make adjustments to your plan as necessary.

Phase 3:

During this phase, the MET Office advises the Director on the imminence of the hurricane and the NEOC is fully activated, the Prime Minister is once again appraised of the situation, the media is informed, the public is advised and the regional branch of disaster management and response, The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) followed by The Pacific Disaster Centre (PDC) which is the International branch of disaster management are then advised on the situation.

Phase 4:

 During this phase, disaster response has already been in play and all lifesaving efforts have been made. The MET Office issues the “All Clear”, the media is advised, the Prime Minister is advised, the NEOC is then deactivated and regional and international partners informed.

Phase 5:

During the final phase of NEMA’s disaster response and recovery mandate, the country enters phase two of the Recovery Phase, which focuses on long-term projects and rebuilding efforts.  Once the Prime Minister has declared the area a Disaster Zone the Disaster Reconstruction Authority is engaged.


Bahamians and residents, The Bahamas, through NEMA, has long standing relationships with local and international partners, our closest being the United States. At any given time the call for assistance is granted, particularly when a disaster overwhelms our Bahamas Island chain.

I cannot stress enough that it is important for you – Bahamians and residents to prepare your households and business for any storm, which might impact us. Thank you.  (source)