Hinds confident of disaster preparedness

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds and CoP (Ag.) McDonald Jacob tour the Brian Lara Promenade during the National Disaster prevention and preparedness month caravan on Friday. – JEFF K MAYERS

National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds says he is confident in the ability of various emergency authorities and related agencies to effectively mitigate the effects of disasters.

Hinds made the remarks after visiting the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management’s (ODPM) disaster preparedness caravan on the Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain, on Friday.

The caravan was intended to inform the public about different agencies that will be mobilised during times of disaster and build awareness of what measures could be introduced to minimise risk and damage.

Hinds said more could be done to improve various parts of operation and planning, but he was pleased with the strategies in place to deal with natural and man-made disasters.

Referring to a sizeable earthquake which affected TT in 2018, Hinds said the infrastucture in the country was sturdy enough that no widespread damage was reported.

“Recently I was on top of the newly minted Police Credit Union building in Barataria, so I had an opportunity to cast my gaze on the entire surroundings from that very panoramic view, and I saw houses as far as my eyes can see. And when I looked at the quality of those houses, I was very impressed: concrete houses, well-roofed, well-ordered, well-structured. I did not see a single shack.

“I remembered, gazing upon that…a couple of years ago we experienced a 7.6 on the Richter scale tremor, and not a single building in TT went down.

“So when I tell you that we are not coming from ground zero, we are blessed and we are well-prepared.”

The country relies on the expertise of those in the ODPM and others, he said, and he was confident.

He added, “More is to be done. We will continue to work together to make Trinidad and Tobago a better, safer and more secure place.”

CEO of the ODPM retired Maj GenRodney Smart said the caravan, which is also expected to visit San Fernando and Scarborough, Tobago, in the coming weeks, is a crucial element in his agency’s disaster management plan, as it raises awareness among the public.

He said as the hurricane season begins in June, preparedness and proper planning were key and promised the agency and related bodies were ready.

“This month we have decided that TT must focus on national prevention and preparedness, and the reason for that is we are approaching the Atlantic hurricane season, and that period throughout the region has been the most devastating.

“Fortunately for us in TT we have been spared, but we must be prepared just in case, so this is going to go throughout the country.”

A report by a Cabinet-appointed committee to investigate the casue of a Trinidad-wide blackout in February said one of the weaknesses noted was the absence of involvement of the ODPM.

The caravan featured the police, the engineering battalion of the regiment, the fire services and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development among other agencies.