Bigger generators slated for NS, EE

By early June the North Side Craddock Ebanks and East End Civic centres will be equipped with new generators with larger capacity and the 2006 hurricane plan is being reviewed for implementation the end of June.

This was disclosed by Chairman of the National Hurricane Committee Donovan Ebanks as the Finance Committee of the Legislative Assembly was considering a $1.2 million allocation in the 2006/07 Budget for national disaster preparedness and response.

Government plans introduction later this year of an emergency management law to regulate and develop an all-hazard emergency management agency, but Mr. Ebanks explained that the NHC will continue to function, states a GIS press release.

‘There have been no major changes undertaken. We are still looking to operate through an as-needed vehicle such as the NHC,’ he told Finance Committee Friday.

The 2006 review of hurricane plans may see creation of District Response Teams whose knowledge of the community will be key in meeting storm preparation needs of certain individuals, and channelling supplies to the right areas after a natural disaster has hit.

‘The concept is to try to put together teams in various districts that can take an active role in the response,’ said Mr Ebanks. ‘When it is functional we expect them to know, for example, that [physically and otherwise challenged persons] need plywood.’

Based on information from the District Response Team members, supplies will be taken to central points for distribution when a storm is imminent. Mr Ebanks said such measures would reduce the typically frantic running around by residents to gather supplies when a storm threatens. Team members’ community knowledge would also help ensure that those who can afford to buy their hurricane needs do not take advantage of NHC resources.

The NHC and the organisation to be created under the coming emergency management law are expected to provide 2,400 to 3,000 hours of disaster preparedness activity between 1 July 2006 and 30 June 2007. Additionally the two agencies must also ensure capacity to provide radio and/or telephone communication to coordinate response during all hurricanes and other disasters throughout the year.

Should there be a disaster, shelters must remain open until alternate accommodation is found for displaced people, and radio and/or telephone communications updated every six hours.

In addition to the $1.2 million placed for direct disaster preparedness and response, the 2006/07 Budget provides funding for storm readiness in a number of other areas.

Some $2.2 million is earmarked for expansion and upgrading of the Emergency Operations Centre and to ensure emergency generators are located at shelters throughout the Islands. Construction of two new hurricane-resistant buildings to house government departments and some statutory authorities will begin in the coming financial year thanks to an $11.9 million provision.

Other hurricane-related allocations are: $1 million for reconstruction of the Bodden Town Civic Centre and Emergency Shelter; and $1 million to build a seawall in East End to help protect the main road in and out of that district from potential storm damage.

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