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CDEMA boss urges region to lift preparedness standard

Published:Tuesday | June 7, 2016 | 6:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

Ronald Jackson, executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), said though Jamaica has one of the better disaster-preparedness plans in the region, there is still concern about the lack of resources.

In an interview with The Gleaner, he said with projections showing up to four storms becoming major hurricanes, Jackson urged citizens not to get complacent.

"Jamaica, we believe, is one of the better countries in terms of operational readiness, though at asset level, there is still cause for concern," he said.

"It's one thing to have knowledge, but it's another thing to respond. Overall, it's there in some places and not there in others. All member states ought to raise the standard," he continued.

Jackson indicated that there is already evidence in Jamaica and Haiti of the danger associated with flood waters and urged for a level of urgency to be employed.

TREND ABOVE NORMAL

Before the official start of hurricane season, St Thomas experienced intense flood rains, which resulted in the death of a high-school student.

"We are expecting a trend above normal. We are also expecting an activity leading into the hurricane season of a little bit more rainfall. In other words, [with] the prolonged dry conditions and the increased rainfall, there is the potential for flood events," he said.

"Before the start of the hurricane season, Jamaica and Haiti recorded flooding incidents and so we are expecting that these conditions could progress as the hurricane season gets under way. We have to recognise that we go through these cycles, and when we come from a prolonged dry season and enter into an active hurricane season, vigilance has to be high, whether it's national level events or local level events," he cautioned.

"I urge CDEMA states to heighten their preparedness level if they have not already done so. This is something that concerns us in terms of the lack of operational readiness for any disaster. I think, generally, we are not seeing the level of readiness, especially against the backdrop of climate change."

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com