JIS News

The St. Elizabeth Municipal Corporation, through its Disaster Preparedness, Hazard Mitigation and Safety Committee, recently carried out an earthquake and tsunami sensitisation exercise in the town of Black River.

The initiative, which formed part of national earthquake awareness activities by the Office of Disaster Preparedness & Emergency Management (ODPEM), was held in and around the parish capital as well as surrounding coastal communities such as the Parottee Bay area.

Parish Coordinator for Disaster Preparedness at the St. Elizabeth Municipal Corporation, Ornella Lewis, told JIS News that the teams distributed public education material on earthquakes, tsunamis and other secondary natural hazards.

She noted that town criers were engaged to spread the message of disaster preparedness.

“People may think that due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) things are on pause, but you have to remember that earthquakes have no season and so we still have to get the information or message out there,” Ms. Lewis said.

“We ought to be prepared at all times because (disasters) can happen at any time,” she added.

She noted that the municipality had the support of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, ODPEM, St. Elizabeth Health Department and the parish’s trained disaster volunteers under the National Disaster Risk Management Plan (NDRMP), among others.

Disaster coordinators from the eastern region such as Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation, St. Thomas Municipal Corporation and St. Catherine Municipal Corporation also participated in the day’s activities.

Earthquake awareness is being observed from January 11 through to March 31 under the theme: ‘Reimagining Earthquake Safety to Build Resilience’.

Ms. Lewis said upcoming activities in the St. Elizabeth include an initial damage assessment training by ODPEM; basic first aid training for staff of the St. Elizabeth Municipal Corporation; and a business workshop on earthquake risk reduction strategies.

“We are trying to ensure that we have our parish mechanism up and ready in any eventuality. We are trying to keep everyone up to par and to ensure that the parish is at a level where we can respond properly,” she noted.

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