St. Kitts’ Senior Met Officer Says Public Should Be Careful Of Disaster Misinformation

Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 02, 2019 (SKNIS): Communication is key in times of natural disaster, says Senior Meteorology Officer with responsibility for St. Kitts and Nevis, Elmo Burke, on the government’s radio and television programme “Working for You” on May 01, noting that persons should be cautious of misinformation that leads to safety issues and mistrust.

“Based on the experiences that we would have had during Irma and Maria there is a great need for us not to have redundancy in our communication strategy,” he said.

“Importantly, messages must be accurate… and meteorology is specific,” he said. “We would have unfortunate instances where persons would have put out sensational information and we have to be careful with that because when you sensationalize the information, even though it might be partly correct during a major hazard, it can have a major impact.”

He called for citizens and residents to rely on the authoritative and relevant body, which is the St. Kitts Meteorology Office, to relay accurate and timely information surrounding disasters.

“You have to rely on the authoritative entity to put out the information and then you can channel it out and reformat it accordingly,” said Mr. Burke. “[On] weather information, the authoritative entity is St. Kitts Meteorology Office here in St. Kitts. So, information should be coming from us and then packaged accordingly if need be.”

He went on to express the unfortunate situation which arises because of the proliferation of false information. He added that this misinformation garners a sense of distrust which can have catastrophic consequences in communities faced with natural disasters.

“And when you have those unfortunate situations developing, you find the general public eventually develops a distrust in terms of the information, because they are uncertain in terms of who should I rely on,” said Mr. Burke.

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