Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Region reminded that earthquakes have no season

This past year has shown that the Caribbean is dealing with more than hurricane hazards.

Speaking on what seems to be evaluated seismic activity within the Eastern Caribbean, Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson, recently noted that a swarm of events ranging from magnitude 3 to 5.9 have occurred between Antigua and Barbuda and St. Lucia, between Martinique and Barbados, and in the vicinity of St. Kitts.

In light of this, he said that the Seismic Research Centre in St. Augustine, Trinidad has been monitoring and investigating these events.

“It is therefore important that we remind the public that earthquakes have no season, and as such we have to take the necessary measures to be prepared for this hazard, as it gives no warning,” he stressed during CDEMA’s annual press conference.

“We have to be prepared for all types of hazards and eventualities; we aren’t simply dealing with hurricanes. We have seen a lot of activity within the region ranging from a number of different types of hazards, and anyone of these could result in a significant challenge for member states.”

Looking at the readiness for the season and beyond with a focus on all-hazard readiness, Jackson revealed that CDEMA has been engaged in a number of activities nationally and regionally.

“At the national level we have deployed our Roving Technical Support teams to provide support to the countries in the areas of information communication technology enhancement, community disaster management planning, and contingency planning. Those initiatives which immediately support national level readiness are related to contingency planning; a process where countries were supported with emergency response testing and training in the areas light level search and rescue.”

He said that internally, CDEMA has been involved in staff training and testing of its internal protocol to ensure that the role of CDEMA as a regional response co-ordinating support facilitator is efficient and effective.

“We will also be beefing up our country operation support deployment to our participating states, should they be affected this would ensure that at all times, they can maintain co-ordination of the response process and improve their ability to share information in a timely manner.”

As CDEMA charts the way forward, the Executive Director revealed that they will be seeking to develop a Readiness Index which will allow participating states to examine their state of preparedness, using Objectively Verifiable Indicators (OVI’s).

“This we expect will help them to strengthen their contingency plans and have greater predictability in terms of what they will be able to do or not do in a given scenario,” he explained.

“The Readiness Index will also assist CDEMA in engaging more effectively the level of readiness from a regional perspective, but more importantly to better plan and prepare for interventions country by country.” (TL)

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