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DEO chairman wants help from business community

selwynbrooksspeaksA western District Emergency Organisation that has been mapping vulnerabilities along that coast says with more than a month to completion of a study they are already seeing some areas they would like the business community to assist.

Chairman of the St. James Central DEO, Selwyn Brooks told Barbados TODAY that so far they have found very few families who have emergency plans in place and additionally they are uncovering some other areas where they believe they can help to boost emergency preparedness through physical improvements.

But, said the chairman, it will call for some financial assistance he believes can in part be provided if the western business community joins together to assist.

The Community Profile, encompassing the stretch from Batts Rock to Paynes Bay, was initiated at the end of February, with most of the 12 volunteers conducting the surveys on weekends, meeting with residents and taking vital information pertaining to the presence of drains, culverts, water hydrants, wells, and any emergency challenges perceived to be present.

Brooks said too that they have been “mapping out all of the major essential services, fire hydrants, wells, drainage, and also identifying those areas that can be problematic, flood prone areas and such”.

The team is about to start the heavily populated Paynes Bay districts this weekend, as the chairman, who is also a Hazmat consultant noted that this profile would add to information they had been collecting for years to provide a holistic view of the emergency needs and issues of the constituency.

Adding that previous information had given the DEO an assessment of flood issues, he said: “We already have that mapped out in our database, but we wanted to find out from residents how versed are they so that in the event that something happens, they will know how to respond.”

He said early information had shown though that while most people have an idea of what should be done in an emergency, there was a lack of a real coordinated plan for the household incorporating all the members and the approach they should take.

So far only about two households, he noted, had indicated that they had mapped out an emergency plan, adding that even despite the vulnerability of the west coast given proximity to the sea, there was still a level of complacency the DEO acknowledge that they had to deal with in terms of more education.

The study was also enabling them to map out the housing stock in the constituency, to identify senior citizens homes, areas where persons with disabilities and other such challenges were located so they could readily be assisted in the event of a challenge.

Having seen persons with disabilities in need of ramps and other little improvements that he said could take the usual agencies years to get done, Brooks said he believed the process could be sped along with the assistance of corporate entities in the constituency.

At the end of the study, when all the findings are analysed, the chairman said they intended to have a town hall meeting where they could discuss the suggestions to be adopted with residents and businesses and also to build more awareness. (LB)

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