The Atlantic Hurricane Season officially ended on November 30.
This is the second consecutive year that the island of Dominica was spared major impacts from tropical cyclones. In fact, Dominica was only placed under a Tropical Storm Watch for Dorian in August, but the system had no major effect on the island. However, we can recall the devastation wrought by Dorian on sections of the Bahamas as a major hurricane. Dominicans stood in solidarity with the Bahamas as we too have lived through a similar experience with the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria on Dominica in 2017.
The time afforded by the relative calm experienced during the hurricane season was used by the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) to execute several activities aimed at strengthening the disaster management mechanism of the country. These mainly took the form of training sessions, workshops and consultations along with continuing work on several projects. Significant among these were a workshop for Media practitioners in collaboration with the Dominica Meteorological Service and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) for enhancing disaster risk communication; strengthening Search and Rescue capacity of local first responders and enhancing community disaster response through Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.
There was also a workshop on adopting Tsunami Protocols and Standard Operating Procedures; rehabilitating the seismic monitoring network and continuous monitoring of seismic activities with support from the Seismic Research Centre (SRC) in Trinidad and finalizing the way forward for the ODM over the next five years by way of the Country Work Programme based on the principles of Comprehensive Disaster Management.
The critical process of reviewing the National Disaster Plan, incorporating “Lessons Learned” from past events such as Tropical Storm Erika and Hurricane Maria, commenced in November. Part of the revision includes assessing the composition and Terms of Reference of the main Task Forces of the National Emergency Planning Organization (NEPO). Bearing in mind that our focus is not only on hydro-meteorological hazards, the National Volcanic Plan is also under review.
The ODM continues to remind the public to put serious effort into creating disaster plans for all aspects of their lives such as public and private sector workspace, health centres, educational institutions and homes. Again, your plans should not be tailored to one, but all hazards. We all have a role to perform in disaster management to ensure greater safety of the population. In this regard, continue to educate and empower yourselves to be better able to protect you, your family and to assist other vulnerable people in your community such as the elderly and physically challenged.
The ODM is using this opportunity to invite the public to familiarize themselves with the “Weather and Alert App” developed specifically for Dominica and email comments and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.