Government revs up disaster planning

With hurricane season creeping up, representatives from 45 government entities recently gathered for a workshop to gear up hazard management plans.

The seminar gave an overview of proposed disaster management legislation which would require all government entities to develop plans if it is passed.

‘The Cayman Islands Government now requires all government agencies to have in place disaster response and continuity of operations plans and many government agencies already have these plans in place,’ said Hazard Management director Barbara Carby.

‘However, plans require review and amendments, and ongoing training is necessary to keep staff current on their roles and responsibilities.’

Continuity plans are also important, because they are designed to ensure that government agencies continue to provide essential functions during and after an emergency, she added.

These plans also help to protect staff, equipment, records and other vital assets.

While emergencies can take many forms such as a fire or a flood, hurricanes really pose the number one threat in Cayman explained Ms. Carby.

Since the Hurricane struck the country in 2004, the Cayman Islands have been threatened and impacted by a number of hurricanes.

Moreover, there has been increasing recognition that work needs to be done to reduce or mitigate the disruptions that can result to government operations following a disaster or emergency.

Government also needs to achieve a timely and orderly recovery following an impact.

As part of the seminar, government managers and directors were taken through the standardised format, which has been developed for government.

‘Although various departments have different roles and responsibilities, it is still possible to have a standardised approach to plan development that can be rolled out across the whole spectrum of Government agencies,’ said Ms. Carby, adding that during the seminar they looked at both response and continuity of operations plans.

‘The continuity of operations plan sets out what critical services will continue to be provided in the event of a major disaster. The response plan looks at management of the crisis. There are different considerations and both are important’

A number of Government ministries and agencies have already established their plans.

In addition, each year Hazard Management reviews and updates the National Hurricane Plan.

‘Plans require review and amendments, and ongoing training is necessary to keep staff current on their roles and responsibilities.’ – Hazard Management director Barbara Carby