NEMA partially activates Operations Centre to monitor Tropical Storm Isaac

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The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA held a press conference Thursday, August 23, 2012 to update the public on the movement of Tropical Storm Isaac. Pictured from left are Luke Bethel - Operations, Training Officer, NEMA; Gayle Moncur, Operations Manager, NEMA; Chrystal Glinton, First Assistant Secretary, NEMA; and Trevor Basden, Senior Deputy Director, Bahamas Department of Meteorology.

NASSAU, The Bahamas – The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, partially activated its Emergency Operations Centre on Thursday, August 23, 2012, to continue to closely monitor the movements of Tropical Storm Isaac and its potential threat to the islands.

At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, a meeting was held at the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) in the Churchill Building, where members of the disaster committee or Emergency Support Functions members, met to report on the respective disaster preparedness plan.

First Assistant Secretary Chrystal Glinton confirmed that the Family Island Administrators were contacted, to ensure that they met with their local disaster committees on their level of preparedness.

A core staff from NEMA will be stationed at the NEOC to monitor the system and ensure that proper procedures are followed, and to stay in constant contact with the Bahamas Department of Meteorology for further instructions.

On Thursday, a tropical storm watch was issued for the Turks and Caicos Island and the southeast Bahamas, which includes Inagua, Mayaguana, Long Cay, Ragged Island, Crooked Island and Acklins.

A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions could affect the mentioned islands within 48 hours.

NEMA follows a standard operating procedure, which provides instructions for activation and the operations of the NEOC. Level I deals with monitoring the system and its projected path, which is 60 hours out.

Level II or partial activation, which NEMA implemented Thursday, means that the situation has escalated into a real threat to the islands or areas in the projected path, 48 hours out.

During this phase, a watch is issued which means that the storm is 48 hours or two days out.  Residents are advised to take the necessary precautions – to protect themselves and their properties.

Level III and Level IV is full activation when the NEOC is fully operated over a 24-hour period and depending on the severity of the storm, the Prime Minister is advised to address the nation on the potential destruction the system would cause.

By this time, residents should be in a wait and see mode and should have already made all preparations for landfall. Such preparations include securing personal documents and seeking shelters in the event an evacuation order was previously issued. This means the system is 36 hours out.

The ESF groupings are made up of personnel from essential services such as health, police force, defence force, water, electricity, shelter management, and other related areas.

Alert #6 on Tropical Storm Isaac issued by The Bahamas Department of Meteorology on Thursday 23 rd august 2012 at 3pm.

Isaac is now moving west-northwestward south of Puerto Rico.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Southeast Bahamas, which includes Inagua, Mayaguana, Long Cay, Ragged Island, Crooked Island and Acklins.

A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions could affect the mentioned islands within 48 hours.

At 2 pm, the center of Tropical Storm Isaac was located near latitude 16.0 degrees north and longitude 66.4 degrees west or about 165 miles south of San Juan, Puerto Rico and 585 miles southeast of Inagua.

Tropical Storm Isaac is moving toward the west-northwest near 15 miles per hour and this general motion is expected to continue through Saturday.  On the forecast track Isaac will continue to pass south of Puerto Rico today and be near the south coast of the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Friday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 40 miles per hour with higher gusts.  Some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours and Isaac could become a hurricane as it nears the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 140 miles from the center.

Outer rain bands from Isaac will began affecting the Turks and Caicos Islands this afternoon and the Southeast Bahamas by tonight.

Residents in the Southeast Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands should make preparation for possible tropical storm conditions late Friday and Saturday.