Cognisant of the criticisms that have been levelled against the organisation in its response to the negative impact of the heavy rainfall and flooding within the past few days, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon, yesterday, said a review of the operations of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) would be conducted to improve its effectiveness.
“The Ministry of National Security will once again review the systems of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management with our responders to see whether or not we can better our response in treating with the issues with respect to flooding and other natural disasters,” Dillon said during a joint news conference at the ministry’s head office, Temple Court, Port of Spain.
The briefing, which also included Works Minister Rohan Sinanan and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein, was called to address efforts by the various ministries and other responder agencies to ameliorate the woes of residents in flood-affected communities.
The ODPM, headed by Dave Williams, has come under fire for not informing citizens, in a timely fashion, of developments in relation to the recent, persistent rainfall which led to widespread flooding in various parts of the country. Williams admitted the organisation fell short in the area of communication but said it had fulfilled its mandate.
Saying that many citizens were going through a difficult time, Dillon said there had been an extremely high amount of rainfall within the past few days.
This, he said, has placed tremendous pressure on water courses, particularly in low-lying areas.
Dillon said, though, that citizens must also take some responsibility for the flooding in some communities.
Regarding ongoing relief efforts, Dillon said the Government had adopted a collaborative approach to dealing with flooding and other natural disasters.
Accompanied by ministers Hosein and Sinanan, ODPM officials and members of the Defence Force, Dillon said a contingent had been out in the field conducting assessments in Madras, Woodland and Barrackpore.
With respect to Woodland, he said they were in the field until 8 pm on Friday, giving relief to members of the community and distributing water supplies.
Dillon added the engineering battalion of the Defence Force also was in Barrackpore evacuating those who wished to be temporarily relocated to shelters at Rochard Douglas Road and Woodland Primary Schools.
Dillon said any follow-up exercise would depend on the rate at which the flood waters subside. “We will continue to monitor the situation and as the water subsides, we will move to Phase Two with the Social Development Minister, assessing the needs of those affected with respect to appliances, foodstuffs, repairs to roof and buildings.”
Dillon said once the assessment was done, the necessary agencies would go into action to assist those affected.
Vijay Gangapersad, chief technical director of the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services, said a team had been mobilised assess losses and provide psycho-social support to those who felt they required such suppport. He said distressed citizens could call the National Family Services Division at 797-7483 or 784-5583.