Deputy chief executive officer of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management Dave Williams says he resigned because he felt he did not have the confidence of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and he should make way for someone who will be deemed better suited to lead the organisation.
Williams also offered “sincerest apologies” for appearing to “under-appreciate the suffering of my fellow citizens.”
In his letter of resignation dated October 23 and addressed to National Security Minister Edmund Dillon, Williams said, as an experienced professional, he believed “that one cannot function effectively without the complete confidence of one’s employer.” He thanked Dillon for the opportunity to serve.
On hearing Rowley’s comments that he was not sure the ODPM was staffed with people with the right aptitude and the right attitude, he took the decision to resign. His resignation, he said, “takes effect as soon as a replacement is named or sooner, if desired.”
About his “unfortunate” response to a reporter asking why the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) had not been activated in light of the extensive flooding which was such a “big event”, Williams said it was not out of a lack of empathy for affected citizens. He said it was “from the knowledge that, given our widely-acknowledged high level of vulnerability and the likelihood of more frequent and more intense hazard events, what we are experiencing at the moment will indeed pale into relative insignificance when a more intense hazard (hydro-meteorological or otherwise) impacts one or both our islands.”
He said, for the record, the ODPM had activated the NEOC at the “virtual level” meaning that physical presence at the NEOC building was not required.
“All information gathering, decision making, and communication are done via smart phone. This type of activation was deemed appropriate in light of the fact that, at the time, most of the affected municipalities appeared capable of coping with the challenges they faced. It was also done to avoid staff burnout, given our current critical level of staffing; a situation of which the Ministry is well aware.”
Williams noted at length the role of the ODPM, and first response of municipal corporations. “It was therefore unfortunate that there continues to be an expectation that the ODPM would be ‘on the scene’ as it were, when, in fact, it is the officers of the municipal corporations who should be responding to the needs of their burgesses in times of emergency.”