Jamaica News: Residents of Savanna-la-Mar in Westmoreland are better prepared to respond to flooding and other natural disasters, following a flood-simulation exercise on January 7.
The exercise was carried out across several sections of the town to include Hudson Street, Cooke Street and Llandilo.
The initiative was organised by the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation and is a part of the Climate Change Adaptation and Risk Reduction Technology and Strategies to Improve Community Resilience (CARTS) Project.
During the simulation exercise, residents participated in various evacuation drills to test their ability to respond to any potential flooding or disaster.
The activity was undertaken in partnership with a number of agencies, including the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Jamaica Fire Brigade, and the Red Cross.
National Disaster Risk Management volunteers also carried out search and rescue operations, first aid and initial damage assessment training.
Speaking with JIS News, Coordinator for Disaster Preparedness in Westmoreland, Hilma Tate, emphasised the importance of flood preparation and response.
“From time to time, we have flooding unexpectedly and so persons need to be aware of what to do, when to move out, where to go, how to move out, and they need to know these things beforehand,” Ms. Tate said.
“Persons in the communities have been prepared so that at least they can be able to handle themselves when a disaster occurs. Even shelter management, the persons who are here today, these are persons who are a part of the training. So what they are doing is just putting into practice what they have learnt,” she added.
Ms. Tate further informed that the agency intends to continue the simulation exercise and training, and is urging residents in the parish to take the initiative seriously.
“Persons need to be prepared…. [by] discussing with the family what to do, where to go, and should, in case the parents are not at home, [discuss] where [the] children must go,” she said.
Resident of Cooke Street, Roary Crooks, indicated that it was important to have this exercise carried out in his community because “if a thing like this (flooding) should occur, we need to ensure that we have somewhere safe to go”.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Hudson Street resident, Kerron Pinnock, who noted that many communities are bordered by rivers and the sea, and hence, should be prepared in the case of a disaster.
“If it rains or whatever, they must make sure they start evacuating early and don’t wait, because we know water will be coming on us,” she said.
The CARTS Project aims to enhance disaster risk reduction capacities in the town of Savanna-la-Mar and surrounding communities.
This will be achieved by implementing floodwater control, coastal protection measures and early warning systems to improve the communities’ disaster risk management capacity; utilising ecosystem-based alternatives to enhance the livelihood options in the areas; and improving the resilience of physical infrastructure and natural barriers to floods and other hazards.
Source: JIS News