CDEMA continues to strengthen its mechanism in preparation for 2019 Hurricane Season

Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Mr. Ronald Jackson
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(CDEMA Press Release) The 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season is officially underway and CDEMA is strengthening its forces to respond effectively to Participating States. Executive Director of CDEMA Ronald Jackson has assured that many strides have been taken over the past year to reassess its plans. Speaking at a press conference held 31 May, Jackson highlighted a report by Colorado State University which predicted 13 named hurricanes. Five are likely to become major hurricanes and two have the potential to be above category three.

Jackson, however, is not fixated on the season’s expectations, but rather CDEMA’s preparedness strategies given the vulnerability of its 18 Participating States.

“There is nothing called over preparing as we would have seen in 2017 where we had three category five hurricanes manifesting in a space of 2-2 ½ weeks,” he explained. Furthermore, the real time experience of responding to hurricanes Irma and Maria, which devastated Dominica and Barbuda, allowed CDEMA to identify strengths and weaknesses. A review of the events was undertaken and the findings implemented. These include revised standard operating procedures and contingency plans to deal with high magnitude hurricane events.

A core component of CDEMA’s response is the Regional Coordination Plan which indicates how stakeholders will be brought together to address the needs of affected islands. From July 16th to 21st 2018, training sessions were held for 30 members of the CARICOM Disaster Relief Unit (CDRU), equipping them to serve as the primary response team. This year, an additional 35 members will be trained in St. Vincent and the Grenadines from June 10th to 18th. Most recently, CDEMA has been dedicated to improving the Regional Coordination Centre at its Barbados headquarters with more technology and data to assist with evaluations of impact.

Emergency Deployment Personnel is another key strategy which sees alliances with various military and civilian operations to fill the gaps where needed. Last month, a workshop was held in the Multinational Civil-Military Coordination Centre at CDEMA’s headquarters featuring the United Kingdom Department of Defense, the United States Military as well as Dutch and French forces to train in standard operating procedures.

The Executive Director recognized that a major challenge faced in 2017 was telecommunications. An Emergency Telecommunications Team has therefore been assembled to monitor the systems.

“CDEMA prides itself on accountability and transparency, constantly putting in systems…to ensure those who are impacted are being served,” Jackson said. To this end, CDEMA has maintained viable partnerships with agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP). Training sessions have been conducted to safeguard supplies from when goods enter the affected states to their management and distribution. Stock for the sub-regional warehouses is funded by CDEMA and WFP. Direct Relief has assisted with sanitary and medical kits while supplies such as tarpaulin are provided for Legacy Project beneficiary countries such as Dominica.

A peer to peer partnership with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has allowed for better coordination in the management of large scale disasters. Airbnb will also partner to support the provision of housing for the response teams and displaced persons in times of crisis.

By the end of June, the organization aims to complete training and finish the Model Evacuation Plan and Policies for Participating States. This entails how to deal with displaced persons, plans for those seeking refuge on other islands and preserving the dignity of the displaced during disasters. An Agency Safeguarding Policy and Code of Conduct during disasters is in the works as well. The former will allow for individuals to air their concerns.

For further information, please contact:

Clive Murray
Communication and Education Specialist
CARIBBEAN DISASTER EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (CDEMA)
Resilience Way, Lower Estate
St. Michael
BARBADOS
Tel #: (246) 434-4880
Fax #: (246) 271-3660
Email: clive.murray@cdema.org

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