As Barbados and other countries within the region brace for an above-average 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, they’ll have additional support from a non-governmental organisation that’s sending a humanitarian ship to help within the event of a disaster.
Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Elizabeth Riley, in the course of the agency’s annual press conference held via Zoom on Thursday, said the region is being supplied with assistance to strengthen its disaster readiness from Global Support and Development (GSD).
She said the Amsterdam-based GSD will “permanently post” the 80-metre humanitarian vessel, M/V Dawn, within the Caribbean.
“This state-of-the-art vessel is provided with an operation centre, an onboard medical facility with a dedicated cold storage laboratory, and a desalination plant with the aptitude to provide as much as 70 000 litres of fresh water,” said Riley.
She added that the “purpose-built and self-sufficient ship . . . will ensure timely and high-quality support to any impacted state without cost to countries within the Caribbean”.
“The vessel may undertake marine survey and salvage operations and allows for the conducting of helideck operations including aircraft refuelling and underslung load cargo transfers as well,” she added.
Riley also announced that CDEMA had commenced preparations for the season in light of an expected 21 named storms, by undertaking a variety of disaster response training programmes for member states.
She said this yr, the agency hosted seven national exercises inside participating states to look at their national plans and ensure arrangements are as they must be, and in addition to discover areas that need strengthening ahead of an event.
Riley added that CDEMA has been working with its member states to strengthen their logistics and relief management arrangements.
CDEMA also held its flagship regional Exercise SYNERGY on May 22, which focused on a regional response to a multi-hazard, multi-island impact.
Riley also shared that the agency has also been investing in training emergency response deployment team personnel. She said that in April, 40 individuals were trained to support deployment teams.
The Executive Director also announced that CDEMA has upgraded its internal telecommunications infrastructure with new HF transceivers.
“And you’ll recognise that communication tends to be considered one of the primary areas affected after we are impacted by hazards,” she said.
“In collaboration with the World Food Programme, we’re also within the means of conducting an Emergency Response Workshop for officers of the emergency response agencies in various states, to coach them in the development of mobile storage units and mobile operational offices within the event that that is required.
“Individuals may recall that we mounted a few of these mobile units in St Vincent and the Grenadines just last yr to support the relief management and logistics efforts within the aftermath of La Soufriere,” Riley added.
The CDEMA boss also indicated that the annual CARICOM Disaster Unit Training will probably be held in June. She said CDEMA can even be continuing its Disaster Fighters Campaign, launched in 2021.
The campaign uses Caribbean artistes and cricketers to share key messages through using promotional videos to strengthen community preparedness for weather systems and natural disasters.
“Up to now, based on the statistics, we all know that this campaign has impacted 16 million individuals in 26 countries within the Caribbean region and Central America,” she said.
America-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting there will probably be between 14 and 21 named storms this season, with six to 10 prone to turn into hurricanes, including three to 6 major hurricanes, that are hurricanes of no less than Category 3 strength.
Riley added that experts predict a 60 per cent likelihood of major hurricanes making landfall within the Caribbean in the course of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, but stressed that “it takes just one event to have a big impact and hurricane preparedness is totally critical”.