Members of two vulnerable communities in Westmoreland – McNeil Lands and New Roads – are now better equipped to deal with disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, as some 100 persons from these areas have successfully completed intense training in a project called, ‘Building Disaster Resilient Communities’.
The project was a three-year initiative lasting from November 2008 to September 2011, which was implemented by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).
Financial support of $1 million was provided by Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), to fund micro disaster mitigation projects throughout the duration of the training project.
Community representatives were presented with copies of the Community Disaster Risk Management plans during the Westmoreland Parish Council monthly meeting in Savanna-la-Mar on February 9, by Disaster Preparedness Co-ordinator for the parish, Rev. Hilma Tate.
Rev. Tate said that the training was designed to empower community persons to be “guardians of their fellow residents and also of their total environment."
“I am pleased with the level of training that the participants were engaged in and I am confident that they will play a vital role in seeing to the safety and rescue of citizens in the event of any disaster. They were trained in areas such as, basic community disaster management, land search and rescue, first aid, swift water rescue, initial damage assessment and shelter management,” she informed.
She indicated that the participants were also engaged in the preparation of the disaster risk management plans as well as standard operating procedures for hurricane, earthquakes and fire.
“The output of the project was to develop mitigation plans and to receive $500,000.00 to fund micro disaster mitigation project for each community. The project for McNeil Lands was to receive a drain map and to have the main drain cleaned, while for New Roads, the project was to have the community catchment tank cleaned and repaired in order to mitigate the serious lack of water during the drought season,” Rev. Tate explained.
Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar and Chairman of the Westmoreland Parish Council, Bertel Moore, in handing over the training material and accompanying equipment to representatives from the communities, commended them for dedicating themselves to the training, and urged that the information be used to empower others to be more disaster conscious.
“These persons that were trained from areas known to be serious disaster areas, especially the McNeil Lands community that constantly experience flooding, are now educated and in a better position to help each other in the community if and when we have a disaster, such as a hurricane or earthquake,” Councillor Moore told JIS News.
By Glenis Rose, JIS Reporter