JIS News

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has embarked on a number of activities in Portland, to sensitise residents to earthquake awareness and mitigating the effects.         

The activities began during Earthquake Awareness Week, January 9 to 15, under the theme ‘When an earthquake strikes, be bold, drop, cover and hold,’ and will continue until March.

Parish Disaster Co-ordinator for Portland, Denise Lewis, told JIS News, that the activities include presentations advising persons on proper procedures to undertake in the event of an earthquake, highlighting past earthquakes, such as those of 1692 and 1907 and practise drills.

Among the places visited were Titchfield High School, Ken Wright Primary, Reach All Age and Windsor Castle Primary schools, and the National Commercial Bank (NCB) in Port Antonio.

Ms. Lewis said the sensitisation programme will continue with visits to Black Hill Primary, Port Antonio High, Drapers Basic School, Buff Bay Primary, Coopers Hill Primary, and the offices of the National Works Agency (NWA), Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Inland Revenue Department.

“At these visits, we carry out practise drills to ensure that everyone is fully aware of the correct procedures to follow in the event of an earthquake,” she explained. She stated that the presentations were well received, however, there is still room for improvement.

“It should be mandatory for all institutions and business entities to carry out drills at least twice per year, to make a difference, and enforce these preparedness plans,” she emphasised, adding that persons should continue these practise plans at home.                                                       

She called on everyone to ensure that their households have a disaster plan, noting that emergency items such as flashlights, medications and food supplies should be readily available, if it becomes necessary to evacuate.

Mrs. Lewis said that persons can visit the ODPEM office  at the Portland Parish Council building, Port Antonio, to source additional information on how to respond to an earthquake, and to familiarise themselves with the emergency numbers such as the Portland Fire Department at 993-2525, and the ODPEM Portland office at 993-2665, 993-2765, 715-6762, 844-2779 and 316-3887.