Disaster response teams get supplies

Grand Cayman residents who stepped forward and led their communities before, during and after Hurricane Ivan, have been rewarded with generators, gloves and other tools to enhance such work in the future, if necessary.

In a concerted effort, with international, regional and local involvement, the Cayman Islands Red Cross presented several local community leaders with equipment that was purchased through a special European Union grant.

The presentations took place at Government House. Governor Mr. Stuart Jack and Red Cross officials presented the items, along with certificates of appreciation, to members of the Community Disaster Response Teams.

There are four communities involved in this pilot effort: Boatswain Bay, Belford Estates, Washington Street, and Seaview Drive. Governor Jack, and Red Cross Director Jondo Obi presented the representatives with the specialised disaster-recovery equipment, and recognised them for their enhanced state of preparation, states a press release.

This is the fifth time that the EU has given such funds to the Caribbean, through the International Federation of the Red Cross. The other four Caribbean countries included in this recent preparedness initiative were Jamaica, Antigua, St. Kitts and the Bahamas.

Red Cross Programme Manager Carolina Ferreira explained that in February 2006, the Cayman Islands Red Cross was selected by the European Commission’s Disaster Preparation Unit of the European Union Commission as the first British Overseas Territory to partake in the project.

While the senior officials ensure that the policies, contingencies and collateral are in place on a national level, community activism is encouraged as an integral aspect of disaster planning and mitigation.

Mr. Jack was involved with this project from the outset, and met with the EU representative in January of this year. He also attended a community meeting in Belford Estates, where the community group there presented findings of the vulnerability and capacity assessment, which they carried out.

‘Hopefully, some of this equipment will never be needed, but it is good that the communities identify and solve their own issues, for in doing so they are developing their own resilience,’ said Mr Jack. Commending the displays of community spirit, he expressed gratitude to all involved, and especially to the Red Cross and the EU for supporting this effort.

Post-Ivan, the Red Cross canvassed various neighbourhoods, speaking to residents and gathering experiences, information, opinions and perspectives relating to disaster mitigation. The Red Cross integrated these concerned residents into formal groups as part of its overall disaster preparedness programme.

It also encourages the community leaders to continue the process with their neighbours, and has hosted several training sessions.

The equipment also includes chain saws, first-aid kits, shovels, helmets, tool kits, and flashlights, and will be kept in storage until needed.

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