Nation Urged to Always be Prepared for Earthquakes


Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, has urged Jamaicans to place greater emphasis on earthquake preparedness by becoming better informed, and more involved in the precautionary process.
“I appeal to my fellow Jamaicans to participate in the activities planned for this commemorative week and avail themselves of all the necessary information that will aid in securing their own lives and properties in the event of an earthquake,” the Prime Minister said in a speech delivered by Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), with responsibility for Local Government Reform, Robert Montague, at the Earthquake Awareness Week Church Service held at the Kingston Parish Church on Sunday (Jan. 11). “The Government recognises the critical need to have our essential services in a constant state of readiness; and strengthen our capacity on a wide scale basis, across all sectors in order to efficiently and effectively manage the recovery process, after any onslaught of a natural disaster,” he stated. Prime Minister, in his message, said that this year’s commemoration of Earthquake Awareness Week is indeed a worthwhile initiative and presents the opportunity to sensitise persons and get them adequately prepared in order to minimise the dislocation that will occur as a result of an earthquake. He noted that Earthquake Awareness Week has taken on greater significance than in previous years based on the current environmental challenges of climate change and global warming. These, he said, have made countries more vulnerable and susceptible to earthquakes.
“This fact poignantly highlights the importance that Jamaicans must place on such natural disasters,” he said.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition, Portia Simpson Miller reminded that earthquakes can strike at any time, causing death and devastation in a manner of minutes. “Earthquakes are greatly feared because they strike without warning, which makes preparing for them a major challenge. Fortunately with the knowledge and capabilities generated by experience, as well as scientific and technological developments, we are better equipped to prepare for the eventuality of an earthquake,” she said in a message delivered by Opposition Spokesperson on Local Government, Colin Fagan.
Mrs. Simpson Miller noted that the week is of significant importance as it will be used to spread the message of earthquake awareness, urging “individuals to utilise the information, which are made available.” She noted that the theme is a timely reminder that preparedness requires personal as well as community action. “I appeal to Jamaicans everywhere to take advantage of this special week to make the appropriate preparation in place in homes, communities, schools and workplaces. This is an opportunity to let community spirit come to the fore and make disaster planning a valuable community-building exercise,” she said. Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Ronald Jackson said that continued measures must be taken to “equip ourselves and our people with the knowledge and skills to effectively mitigate, plan and prepare as well as respond.”
“We have begun to institute measures to build our nation’s capacity such as our establishment of a land search and rescue programme and our risk and vulnerability assessment programmes,” he continued.
Mr. Jackson noted that knowledge and awareness building remains a key component of the organisation’s drive to make Jamaica earthquake-resilient. “This is the reason why we observe Earthquake Awareness Week annually, to create greater awareness of this threat to our island.” He called for greater collaborative efforts regarding preparations at all levels within the society. “The ODPEM will continue to lead from the front in the process of making Jamaicans more prepared. However, we will be seeking to do this through partnerships with the private sector, communities, government agencies, and regional and international entities. As our theme for this year suggests, we need to be smart and do our part. The entire nation’s support will be required to truly achieve the level of preparedness and resilience necessary in our planning for earthquakes.”
Earthquake Awareness Week is being observed from January 11 to 17, under the theme: ‘Earthquakes Have No Seasons: Do Your Part.Be Earthquake.Smart!’

JIS Social