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Citizens must make greater effort to prepare for disasters - Jackson

Published:Monday | August 8, 2016 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Ronald Jackson

Ronald Jackson, executive director at the Caribbean Development Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), believes that a critical lesson that stood out for him during the passage of Tropical Storm Earl is the fact that there continues to be a level of complacency on the part of citizens when it comes to preparing for natural disasters.

Making reference to the Dominican Republic, where six persons lost their lives, the CDEMA boss said that it is critical that public awareness is heightened so as to ensure that citizens are sensitised and alert.

In addition to the six lives that were lost, the storm swept through the Dominican Republic, injuring 12 others when it toppled power lines atop a bus near Nagua in the north-eastern part of the country.

"What jumped out at me so far as it relates to the passage of Earl is the fact that in the Dominican Republic context, we had six deaths. The circumstances under which those deaths occurred is one which, again, can be put down to a failure of individuals to really recognise the condition at hand (and) to ensure that they are keeping in touch with the authorities about what is required," he told The Gleaner.

"It is something we have seen in our own English-speaking Caribbean context in the past (complacency). These are six people who should not have perished. I gather that they went out on a boating excursion and got into difficulties when they should have been in port. It could very well have been avoided."

Jackson said that going forward, it will be imperative that more efforts are made to initiate the requisite investments in emergency services, an area he believes needs to be strengthened across the region.


"That's something that while it (Earl) did not impact any of the CDEMA participating states, it impacted a country in which we are developing programme partnership, sharing lessons and experiences. It is something that, on a general note, we really would not want to see occur any at all," he said.

"I do believe that a lot of work has gone into the operational apparatus in various countries. There are some gaps in terms of the resources and the coordination of a joint government approach, which needs to be strengthened."

He added, "The fact that we have a lot of coastal communities across the Caribbean is going to put a lot of pressure on the ability of the existing resources to be able to deal with the demands that can be generated beyond the scale and scope of a category one hurricane or tropical storm."