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JIS News

As the Disaster Preparedness Committee in St. James continue to put all the necessary machinery in place for the hurricane season, which has been predicted to be an active one, the St. James Parish Council has acquired the service of two Peace Corps response volunteers.
The volunteers, Nels Christianson and Joy Untalan, who are qualified Engineers from the United States, will work with the committee for six months establishing a disaster preparedness data base and a comprehensive programme for shelter management.
According to Disaster Preparedness Co-ordinator for the parish, Amanda Thompson, professional assistance in the area of data base programming would improve the parish’s response in any disaster.
“Since they have been here three months now, they are getting the job done, despite it being long and tedious. We here at the parish council, have the raw data and needed to put it in a proper system, so that information on the parish can be readily accessed. This is extremely important for the proper streamlining of our resources,” Mrs. Thompson told JIS News.
She pointed out that the parish was about 87 per cent ready for a hurricane or any other disaster.
“We are presently well on our way in terms of our readiness. The training of our emergency operation centres personnel was recently carried out, also training for shelter managers, is on-going. We are now in the process of carrying out special training for damage assessment and first aid training. Our two Peace Corps response volunteers have been working with agencies and companies, such as the Public Health Department, the Police, the Hospital and the Parish Council’s web master. A great volume of information and data will now be available to more persons as a result of their work,” Mrs. Thompson explained.
She informed that currently, the committee is stockpiling equipment and needed material in preparation for this hurricane season and that emergency shelters are being inspected for repairs. She also noted that drain cleaning works are being carried out in several rural areas that are prone to flooding, and that public education is on-going on precautionary measures to take in the event of a disaster.
One of the volunteers, Mr. Christianson, told JIS News that their work should make disaster information more available and accessible to the public.
“I don’t think it’s possible to be completely prepared for disasters. I therefore hope that our work here in Jamaica will be one that help people, at least primarily in this parish of St. James, to prepare and lessen the effects of natural disasters in the areas,” he said.