JIS News

Prime Minister Bruce Golding officially launched Disaster Preparedness Month at a national church service held at the Old Harbour Baptist Church in Old Harbour Bay on Sunday, June 1.
The theme developed by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) for the month is ‘Disasters are a constant reality, be prepared for any eventuality’.
Addressing the service, Mr. Golding appealed to Jamaicans to do something to help themselves to prepare for the season which promises to be an active one. He said government had recently released $100-million to help clean drains and gullies to prevent flooding, but that citizens can also play their part in making the necessary preparations by pruning trees to prevent them from falling down on their homes and keeping gullies clean .
Mr. Golding said he had met last week with the National Disaster Committee to review the country’s readiness and that while we could never be one-hundred percent ready for any disaster, efforts were being made to improve response capability on the ground and to get disaster workers into community to take charge and to help people put their lives back together.
Mr. Golding said that in an effort to improve competencies on the ground he had requested the ODPEM to have discussions with the Ministry of Education to see whether students at grades 10 and 11 could begin a training programme through which the country could build a strong army of volunteers who could assist in the relief and rescue programmes following a hurricane.
“We need to give these young people some responsibility so that they can assist and I have asked ODPEM to work on that programme for next year’, Mr. Golding said. He said this would be in addition to the existing services of cadets, and other institutionalised services. “As we confront the possibility of serious hurricanes this year that can do enormous damage, we need to do everything possible to secure ourselves”.
Mr. Golding said government was also putting in place mechanism to help better identify persons who have suffered after a disaster as there is too much confusion with people and that government is working on refining the system to identify those who have suffered from hurricane damage.
He called on the citizens of Old Harbour to work with the government so that it would be less challenging for government to come in and provide assistance after a hurricane.
In his message to mark the launch of Disaster Preparedness Month, the Director General of ODPEM, Mr. Ronald Jackson called on Jamaicans to get off the sidelines, join hands with their neighbours, churches, and the ODPEM. He said the ODPEM has planned a number of activities for this year including cultural extravaganzas in schools and public education campaign targeting all people across all sectors. Mr. Jackson said Jamaica, like other Caribbean countries, was very vulnerable because of deforestation, poor settlement, and improper waste disposal. However he noted that the island could reduce this vulnerability by preparing ourselves. This is not a state or Government issue, Mr. Jackson said. The level of our preparedness will determine our survival.
The message from the Governor General Professor Sir Kenneth Hall was delivered on his behalf by the Custos of Spanish Town, Mrs. Sophia Azan. Opposition leader, Mrs. Portia Simpson Miller was represented at the service by Mr. Colin Fagan, who delivered a message to the congregation on her behalf.

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