KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – As the country braces for the possible onslaught of Tropical Storm Ernesto, disaster preparedness officials are on high alert.

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, (ODPEM) on Friday afternoon urged parish response teams to put their emergency mechanisms into place and summoned members of the National Response Team to an emergency meeting.

\”Tropical Storm Ernesto has the potential to strengthen into a hurricane ..persons on the coast especially must be on the alert for storm surges that can cause devastating effects to property\” Communications Manager at the ODPEM Nadine Newsome said.

The National Irrigation Commission on Friday afternoon announced that it will start shutting down its operations across the island on Saturday afternoon.

Public Relations Specialist at the Commission Patricia Tyrrell says the shut-down is to ensure that its equipment is protected if the country is adversely impacted by Tropical Storm Ernesto.

\”In the event of the hurricane or storm we will be shutting down the systems to ensure that we don\’t have any flooding. What we do, we open some of the gates to allow water to flow freely and in other cases where we will be sending water on the farm, those are the ones we will be shutting down\” said Patricia Tyrrell of the National Irrigation Commission.