Fri | Sep 22, 2023

St Elizabeth ready for hurricane season

Published:Thursday | June 1, 2023 | 6:20 PM
Parish Coordinator for Disaster Preparedness at the St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation, Ornella Lewis, addressing the St Elizabeth’s Humanitarian Sub-Committee at the St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation on May 30. - Contributed photo.

St Elizabeth is ready with comprehensive plans and emergency response systems to protect life and property during the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which starts on June 1.

In fact, the Humanitarian Sub-Committee, which falls under the parish's Disaster Preparedness Committee, held a tabletop exercise with supporting ministries and agencies on Tuesday at the St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation, in preparation for the season.

During the exercise, representatives from various entities were engaged in standard operating procedures, mitigation measures, shortcomings that require immediate attention and other mechanisms.

“Shelter management is also one of the key responsibilities of this subcommittee, and of course, they look into things like your food preparation, general welfare, the whole shelter structure, checking the status of homes [and] do initial damage assessment,” said Parish Coordinator for Disaster Preparedness at the St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation, Ornella Lewis.

She told JIS News that some 87 official shelters stand ready with Managers to serve vulnerable communities across the parish.

Shelter managers are kept engaged year-round through meetings and refresher courses, as disaster management takes into account all natural hazards.

Lewis pointed out that shelter management training and other initiatives are to take place in June.

“We will also have what we call the emergency operations centre training, where all our ministries, agencies and departments will be engaged and where, as the hub for coordination, how we respond to the various threats that may come upon us,” she explained.

Lewis said the Disaster Preparedness Committee will also be conducting training in initial damage assessment, emphasising that it is critical that members of the committee be versed in how to assess the amount of damage following a disaster, so as to know the level of response.

“We get the country to understand what is happening. So, we ensure that we have the various entities to be a part of it, our disaster volunteers, to [guarantee] that we have knowledge of how we go about doing this,”  Lewis said.

“So, we just don't go in the field. There's a proper standard operating procedure as to how we go in the communities and do these assessments,” she added.

Among the agencies that attended the Humanitarian Sub-Committee meeting were the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Social Development Commission, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Jamaica Red Cross, St Elizabeth Health Department, St Elizabeth Poor Relief Department, St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation, and others.

- JIS News 

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