CDEMA strengthens its resilience framework for the 2021 Hurricane Season

CDEMA Executive Director (Ag.) Elizabeth Riley gave an update on the 2021 hurricane season and CDEMA activities. (Photo via CDEMA)
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(Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency Press Release) The 2021 Hurricane Season has officially commenced and CDEMA is charting the way for its 19 Participating States in the existing multi-hazard environment. The Colorado State University forecast an above normal Atlantic basin and, further to this forecast, the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, predicted 13 to 20 named storms, of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes, including 3 to 5 major hurricanes.

 Executive Director (ag) of CDEMA, Elizabeth Riley, addressed regional media personnel at the annual press conference on May 31, 2021. She explained, “The message is really one of preparedness and we say this every year…the forecast is a guide that gives insight to what will possibly happen in terms of the number of systems. However, we will always make the point that it can take only one system to have a devastating impact on any of our CARICOM States.”

 The Hurricane Season is compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the explosive eruptions of the La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines which commenced on April 9, 2021. As of May 24, 2021, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) reported an increase in positive cases in some parts of the region, with the number of cases surpassing 181,000 in CARPHA Member States, and 790,000 in the wider Caribbean. Most Caribbean countries have begun their vaccine rollouts, with approximately 1.4 million doses administered in 24 CARPHA Member States as of May 21, according to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).

 The alert level at La Soufrière has been downgraded to orange. As of May 24, there were 80 active public shelters housing 3,959 evacuees; while 18,350 persons were sheltering in private homes, more than 2,000 of whom were registered to feed at shelters. The Regional Response Mechanism was activated to support St. Vincent in December 2020, and a surge of support followed the explosive eruption, through deployment of response teams and coordination of national, regional and international partners.

 This year, CDEMA will expand its resilience framework and an MoU with the Caribbean Alliance of National Psychological Associations (CANPA) will see a new technical team introduced. This will integrate mental health and psychosocial support in disaster response. Shut Down procedures have been upgraded, through the Model Shut Down Project funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). This project looks to bridge the gap between National Disaster Offices (NDOs) the Private Sector and the General Public, to improve understanding of emergency response procedures.

 A new initiative entitled, The Resilient Caribbean Young Professionals Development Programme, will be implemented in the 19 Participating States to expose young persons to the discipline of Disaster Management. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Participants will benefit from gaining essential experience either virtually, face-to-face or both, documenting of their work experience through pictures and video, receiving an evaluation and stipend during their work assignment.

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