Council staged Debriefing Subsequent to Hurricane Matthew
Following the de-activation of the St. Catherine Emergency Operations Centre on Tuesday, October 04, a debriefing was held in the Council’s meeting room on Friday October 07, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.
The meeting was convened by chairman of the Parish Council and Mayor of Spanish Town, Councillor Norman Scott. The Custos Rev. the Hon. Jeffery McKenzie was also in attendance.
In her report, the Coordinator commented on the series of events subsequent to activation of the Centre, pointing out that it was active 24 hours throughout the period and there was continuous communication with agencies. She said there has been significant improvement in operations and all the agencies that were present must be commended. She said she was comfortable with their level of support and attendance.
Some 60 shelters across the parish were activated and various agencies and groups visited those that were occupied with a view of ensuring the required assistance was rendered, for example food and medical.
Mitigation works done by the Local Authority significantly reduce the impact on flood prone areas and search teams (volunteers) must be commended for their efforts. Disaster Management has come a long way and it was proven when we saw the improved response from all the parties involved. The various reports that came into the centre were efficiently and effectively dealt with and I must highlight some of the positives, she said.
- Improved support from the St. Catherine Parish Council staff who were rostered and did a tremendous job throughout the entire operation.
- The prompt response of the medical team
- Buses were prepositioned by the JUTC, ready for transporting; who also transported the homeless off the streets and took them to the homeless shelter at the infirmary.
- Improved sponsorship from corporate Jamaica who came on board and assisted with items
- Prepositioning of heavy equipment courtesy of the Council’s Roads and Works Department and NWA
- Drain cleaning and mitigation efforts were conducted in some divisions
- Prepositioning of items to priority shelters
- Improved security
- Improved alliance with the Ministry of Education and volunteers as it relates to shelter management.
In our bid to chart the way forward, I use this medium to appeal for increased funding for Disaster Management in the parish. There is also an urgent need for repairs of the road closure gates in the Bog Walk gorge, she said.
She closed by expressing special thanks to the Mayor, Custos, Directors, Agencies, all Stakeholders and the St Catherine Parish Council staff for the support throughout the period.
All stakeholders present, including councillors were permitted to express their views, 95 percent of whom were comfortable with all that was put in place for the effective running of the Parish Emergency Operations Centre.
I am happy to know that this parish was prepared as best as possible for any eventualities that was likely to occur, and I as well, express thanks to all the parties involved and who aided in the preparation process. I am however disappointed with the approach taken by the ODPEM throughout the duration of hurricane Matthew. If they were present at the meeting, they would have to answer to me, said Mayor Scott. In spite of everything, however, all thanks and praise to the Almighty for sparing us from the devastation expected, he said.