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  • Minister of State for Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Colin Fagan has commended the St. Elizabeth Parish Council for the parish’s state of readiness ahead of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
  • Mr. Fagan commended the parish’s Community Resilience Initiative.
  • The State Minister said he was “heartened that St. Elizabeth continues in (its) quest to become a disaster resilient parish.”

Minister of State for Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Colin Fagan has commended the St. Elizabeth Parish Council for the parish’s state of readiness ahead of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which begins on June 1.

Mr. Fagan commended the parish’s Community Resilience Initiative, which involves the training of community and agency representatives in shelter management, damage assessment, and first aid.

He was speaking at the disaster preparedness parish forum hosted by the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management Committee of the St. Elizabeth Parish Council at the St. Matthews Anglican Church Hall in Santa Cruz, on Tuesday, May 20.

The State Minister said he was “heartened that St. Elizabeth continues in (its) quest to become a disaster resilient parish.”

Meanwhile, he noted that recent reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Change Prediction Centre in the United States suggest that the re-emergence of the ‘El Nino’ phenomenon this year, could cause a reduction in the development of tropical storms in the Atlantic this season.

However, Mr. Fagan said the devastating effects of storms and prolonged rainfall are constant reminders of the vulnerability of the parish cautioning that, “we cannot ignore the significance of the parish of St. Elizabeth as the ‘breadbasket’ of Jamaica and this makes it even more critical that we continue to take proactive and timely steps to reduce our risk level and put measure in place to effectively recover from any impact.”

Turning to the 20 disaster shelter managers who were honoured at the forum, Mr. Fagan commended the group for its strong spirit of volunteerism.

He said the special occasion to recognise the shelter managers was an important and deserving gesture.

He challenged the St. Elizabeth Parish Council as the chief body with responsibility for disaster risk management in the parish to “continue to show strong leadership and do everything possible to strengthen the resilience of the parish.”

The forum was a collaborative effort of the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management Committee of the St. Elizabeth Parish Council, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), and the Social Development Commission (SDC). It forms part of the observation of Disaster Preparedness month in the parish.

The event featured a number of agency heads outlining their emergency action plans and state of readiness for disasters. These included: the National Works Agency; the Jamaica Fire Brigade; the Jamaica Constabulary Force; the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA); the Ministry of Labour and Social Security; the SDC; the National Solid Waste Management Authority; and the Jamaica Public Service.