JIS News

Residents of Trinityville in rural St. Thomas are now better equipped to prepare for, and manage all types of disasters.
A community disaster mitigation plan, prepared under the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)-funded Building Disaster Resilient Communities (BDRC) project, was launched in the area last week.
The plan was the culmination of five months of community training and planning, facilitated by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), in areas such as basic disaster management, vulnerability assessment, shelter management, search and rescue, initial damage assessment, and evacuation management.
Director General of ODPEM, Ronald Jackson, told JIS News that Trinityville is one of the pilot communities under the BDRC project, which aims to invest resources in vulnerable communities to plan, prepare for, and manage the emergency, recovery, welfare and assessment processes following a disaster.
The process involves the formation of a local disaster committee, which works closely with the parish disaster committee, comprising representatives from agencies such as the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Jamaica Fire Brigade, Social Development Commission, Jamaica Red Cross, among other stakeholders, to manage disaster mitigation, including planning and response.
“What is exciting about this whole project is that (residents) have come together to look at mitigation strategies towards minimising the effects of these hazards that affect them annually,” Mr. Jackson said.
“The fact that the governance structure at the local level is involved as well as the community [it] is very encouraging to us at ODPEM,” he further stated, adding that “we can’t be successful if the community is not at the core.”
Regional Coordinator at ODPEM, Sophia Mitchell, told JIS News that the Trinityville disaster plan was critical as the community faces a myriad of hazards annually such as flooding, bushfire, and land slides.
It is important, she said, that residents know who is in charge of what particular function and that the community owns the process, so that overtime, it will become more resilient.
The next step in the process, she said, is the staging of a simulation exercise. “We will create an emergency operation centre in Trinityville and the community members will manage an incident… possibly flooding or a bush fire.
“We would also activate a parish emergency operation centre so you could see the interface between the community emergency centre and the parish-based emergency centre, which would in turn, forward the information to the National Emergency Centre. That’s the framework in which we have to operate,” she informed.
Trinityville resident, Ashley Plummer, told JIS News that he is happy that the disaster plan has come to fruition as often, residents have had to leave their homes due to flooding and landslides.
Some 28 vulnerable communities islandwide are slated to benefit under the BDRC project.

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