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  • he country’s emergency systems are in place and ready to be activated in the event of any disaster during the hurricane season.
  • Hon. Noel Arscott says NEOC and PEOC, which are responsible for emergency response co-ordination at the national and local levels, have been established in all parishes and are ready to be mobilized.
  • The Minister was giving an update on the state of the country’s disaster preparedness at Jamaica House press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister.

The country’s emergency systems are in place and ready to be activated in the event of any disaster during the hurricane season. Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott says the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) and the Parish Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC), which are responsible for emergency response co-ordination at the national and local levels, have been established in all parishes and are ready to be mobilized. The Minister was giving an update on the state of the country’s disaster preparedness at Wednesday’s (July 9) Jamaica House press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister. With regards to resources and equipment, he informed that there has been an increase in the existing stock of items such as bedding, water storage containers, tarpaulins, and generators at the National Emergency Stores. The total items in the national stores value over $100 million. Minister Arscott said the current stock will enable the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) to meet the needs of 20,000 persons or 5,000 families of four members each, while supplying the needs of up to 115 priority shelters, including the National Arena. “It is recognised that this stock level is inadequate to satisfactorily address shortages in the event of a major disaster. ODPEM, therefore, continues to explore ways of obtaining additional items for the boosting of stocks,” he said. The Minister informed that there has also been an increase in stock at the western region warehouse facility, located at Montpelier, which serves as the hub for distributing supplies in the western Jamaica.

He said some parish councils have identified and entered into contractual arrangements with owners and operators of heavy duty equipment, while others have reached agreements with the National Works Agency (NWA) to mobilize equipment, if needed in the event of a disaster. Turning to shelters, Mr. Arscott said all priority shelters have been inspected and there is ongoing monitoring of these facilities.  He said the shelter programme has also benefitted from an injection of additional trained shelter management personnel, with the most recent training held in June. Highlighting one shelter in particular, Mr. Arscott said the Naggo Head Primary School has been retrofitted as one of the emergency shelters in Portmore, to better accommodate persons who are physically challenged. Under this initiative, select classrooms and bathrooms at the facility have been made wheelchair-friendly, thereby making it easier for persons confined to wheelchairs to utilize the facility. He informed that continuous measures will be increased to bolster the country’s resilience in the event of a disaster. Mr. Arscott reminded citizens that preparedness is everyone’s responsibility. “So, while we are doing our part to ensure the country suffers minimal damage in the case of a disaster, I implore you to formulate your own contingency plan in order to safeguard yourself, your family and your property,” he said.