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US$3.5 million to prepare for hurricane season

Some US$3.5 million was mobilised in the past year to provide support to member states to help them cope with the challenges of getting disaster prepared, says CDEMA’s new Executive Director, Ronald Jackson.

He made this disclosure during a media conference today, even as he noted that the upcoming hurricane season was predicted to be an extremely busy one for the region.

Ronald Jackson

Ronald Jackson

Jackson, who now heads the regional disaster preparedness body headquartered at Manor Lodge, St. Michael, said: “In tackling the challenges faced by our participating states…, the CDEMA Coordinating Unit, through support from its development partners, has mobilised a total of US$3.5 million in direct country level resourcing support over the past year.

“We have been able to provide $4 to $5 to every dollar contributed to our participating states. This illustrates the agency’s commitment and that of our development partners,” said Jackson, extending appreciation to those partners and regional institutions for the support.

He said as well that he was particularly pleased that a number of the 18 member states of CDEMA were actually already in the planning stages for the upcoming hurricane season, noting that several campaigns kicked off in early May.

“June 1, 2013 marks the start of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane season. Already the forecasters are predicting that it will be an above normal one. It will be active. NOAA suggested that there is a likelihood of 13 to 20 main storms of which seven could become hurricane; three to six possibly becoming major hurricanes.

“These predictions are well above the seasonal averages, hence the message is clear and has to be made even clearer. The extent to which we could be impacted will depend on the level of investment being put into preparing for and preventing as best as possible the negative consequences of this hazardous event.

“We are advocating that there be significant efforts taken to boost sectoral level readiness, business readily, family and individual readiness — a message that is being promoted by all the national disaster management authorities within the region and in this regard I wish to comment the many national disaster management agencies which have initiated their national campaigns,” said Jackson.

This step, he said, was symbolic of the fact that preparedness did not begin at June 1, but had to begin long before that. The fact that campaigns were already underway, he added was sending a clear message of the work towards preparedness.

At the regional level, the executive director pointed out that the regional coordinating plan had been revised to look more at the roles of the sub-regional country focal points and the mechanisms for activating the sub-regional coordinating centres.

Likewise, he said they have conducted and scheduled exercises to test regional readiness, with “exercise first step” already having been completed and plans far advanced for Regional Rap and Exercise Tradewinds.

“Training and equipping of our CARICOM Disaster Relief Unit has also taken place through support from the US Southern Command, thereby sharpening the tip of the spear of our response architecture.” There has as well been preparedness regarding the Seismic Research Unit and the IOC Caribe regarding tsunami and seismic readiness, with great advancements in the capacity for forecasting and early warning systems for climate hazards. (LB)

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