ODPM talks Port of Spain evacuation plan, emergency alert system

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this file photo a woman braves heavy rainfall on Queen Street, Port of Spain. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) has evaluated the Port of Spain Disaster Management Unit’s evacuation measures and discussed implementing a public system.

This Port of Spain evacuation plan has been in the works since 2010, and involves detailed procedures for evacuating the city in the event of flooding or other hazards.

The meeting, at the Alternate National Emergency Operations Centre (ANEOC) in Mausica on June 15 was attended by representatives of five diplomatic missions – from Australia, Canada, Holland, Spain and the US.

This collaboration is part of the ODPM’s continued attempts to improve TT’s disaster preparedness, response and recovery efforts.

In his address, CEO of the ODPM Maj Gen Rodney Smart acknowledged that Trinidad and Tobago are two very small islands that are particularly vulnerable to many hazards.

He told the visitors, “Thankfully, either directly or indirectly, we have received support from your nations, and to us, your visit today marks another critical point in the drive towards collaboration and partnership, in strengthening disaster risk reduction and management in TT, inclusive of that of your citizens living, working and visiting here.”

Anwar Baksh, the ODPM’s planning and development officer, gave a brief on TT’s disaster readiness and resilience initiatives, as well as the country’s alignment with regional and international frameworks. He said through the support and kind donations of the various diplomatic missions, the ODPM is better able to boost TT’s disaster prevention and preparedness capabilities.

The diplomats expressed interest in understanding how emergency alerts could be disseminated to their citizens and the public in general. They were told the ODPM is in the early stages of trials of a national public alert system.

The rainy season started on May 16. Since then, the country has already had two adverse weather alerts, as well as several cases of flooding and roofs being blown off.