Wed | Jan 23, 2019

Don't drop your guard - ODPEM

Published:Thursday | December 4, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer

Making reference to the heavy showers that the country experienced over the weekend, acting director general at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Richard Thompson, has urged persons to put in place comprehensive preparation mechanisms that are not limited to the hurricane season.

The hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30.

Speaking with The Gleaner, Thompson said the country's vulnerability to disasters continues to increase and, as a result, a light shower of rain can cause serious damage.

"We had an inactive season but the world continues to evolve and so while we were not responding to natural disasters we have new biological threats such as chikungunya (Virus) and the threat of Ebola. We also experienced one of the worst dry spells and so this means that disasters are no longer limited to a hurricane season," he declared.


"We should also be mindful of the effects of climate change, because looking at the situation with the gorge (Bog Walk) on the weekend, the areas that were affected were not problem areas in the past. So it has moved from persons being trapped between Flat Bridge and the deep meander to other areas becoming very dangerous, and all of this is as a result of climate change," Thompson said.

He encouraged citizens to be more alert and to keep abreast of new developments taking place.

"There are emerging issues that are appearing on a daily basis and, so as a country, we have to be vigilant and become actively involved in the disaster- management process," he said.

"We are having extensive disasters that occur as a result of industrialisation. Even with plans of the logistics hub on the way, we have to be mindful of the consequences that will come with that," he said.

"Disasters are very real and so, as a country, we have to work to address all hazards, because, as a small island, it doesn't take a tropical storm to cause damage. A light shower can cause serious harm."