JIS News

The community of Denbigh in Clarendon now has a Disaster Preparedness Committee, which will lead the community’s response efforts in the event of a disaster.
The group, which is comprised of nine residents, was formed during a special community development meeting facilitated by the Social Development Commission (SDC) and held at the Denbigh United Church on Thursday (Sept. 29).
Camille Delgado, Regional Coordinator at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), who addressed the meeting, pointed out that because communities could be affected by disasters at any time, residents must be prepared to respond.
“What we need to do is to mobilize the individual and the community to respond in making preparations before anything happens so that they can deal with the impact. They will need to know what to do before, during and after a disaster,” she said.
She pointed out that communities might be required to pool their resources to provide relief in the aftermath of a disaster, as assistance from outside could take some time before reaching the community.
In preparing for disasters, Ms. Delgado advised that communities should identify hazards; know the resources available to them such as the police, fire department, hospital, shelters; have a plan to move vulnerable persons; identify the training needs of the community; and become an integral part of the Parish Disaster Committee structure.
Ms. Delgado mentioned that once the Denbigh committee became an officially organized group, persons would be trained and certified by ODPEM in basic response strategies, shelter management and damage assessment, among other areas.
She also mentioned that ODPEM was seeking to establish a core of disaster volunteers across the island and community groups would be asked to join.
Stephanie Simpson, Community Development Officer at the SDC, told JIS News that the group would function as a zonal disaster committee and would meet on Tuesday (October 11) to elect a chairperson; determine roles and functions and linkages with the Parish Disaster Committee; identify and register community shelters; and draft a terms of reference for using shelters, among other issues.
The newly formed disaster committee will represent all the districts within Old and New Denbigh, including Havana Heights.