Twenty families from Rose Hall Lane in Kingston, whose homes were ravaged by fire in January of last year, recently received personal care packages and cash valued at $200,000 from several donor agencies.
In a handing over ceremony coordinated by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) in an open lot in the community, not far from where the fire occurred, the victims were presented with toiletries from Colgate Palmolive and also collected their cheques, which came from donations made by several private sector companies.
In an interview with JIS News, Director General of ODPEM, Dr. Barbara Carby, explained that as a result of the fire and the displacement of more than 80 persons, “ODPEM brought together the different parties who wished to help. We ensured that there was minimal overlap and (more) synergy in the response.”
Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Dr. Barbara Carby, presents a personal care package from Colgate Palmolive to a resident of Rose Hall Lane, who lost her home after fire destroyed the living quarters of 20 families in the community in January of last year.
Outlining the agencies that provided aid to the homeless families, Dr. Carby told JIS News that these included the Ministries of Health and Local Government, Community Development and Sport, and the Salvation Army, which provided food and bedding for the victims in the aftermath of the tragedy.
In addition, she said that the Red Cross established contact with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and was able to secure school books and uniforms for the children, while the Ministry of Labour and Social Security through its Public Assistance Division, provided care packages and conducted welfare assessment at the site, immediately following the disaster.
The Webster Memorial Church provided portable toilets, counselling, food and support to the victims, while the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), also provided counselling.
But even while offering support to the victims, Dr. Carby took the opportunity to encourage persons living in crowded urban areas to practice good fire management strategies, to prevent other incidents such as the Rose Hall Lane fire. “Fire prevention is extremely important,” she stated.
She warned persons against making illegal electrical connections, leaving open flames in inappropriate places, leaving matches for children to play with and having flammable liquids in reach of children.
Meanwhile, Senior Director for Preparedness and Emergency Response at ODPEM, Ronald Jackson, told JIS News that typically, ODPEM became involved in incidents deemed as national disasters, but got involved with the Rose Hall Lane tragedy, after the donor agencies had indicated their wish to work through the disaster relief agency.
“Primarily, our system at ODPEM looks at the process of response and relief and beyond that, looking at rehabilitating the victims,” he stated.