Chief Executive Officer of the ODPM (Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management) Neville Wint yesterday assured that government has given its commitment to provide more marine assets to assist flood victims impacted by adverse weather conditions in the future.
Wint also dismissed allegations by some affected flood victims that the ODPM was slow in bringing relief to them between last Friday and Monday. He made it clear yesterday that the ODPM is not the first responder of natural disasters and said that responsibility lies with the regional corporations.
He said if people in flood ravaged areas did not see any immediate responses from their regional corporations then it is something which needs to be investigated. Yesterday residents of Warrenville said when they awoke on Saturday to massive flooding in the area they received no immediate relief from the Tunapua/Piarco Regional Corporation.
Residents said they were assisted by people from the area who used trucks and flat bottom boats to rescue them from swirling flood waters.
Yesterday Wint said the Minister of National Security will be purchasing boats, including more marine type assets to assist in responding to flood impacted areas. These also include dinghies, flat bottom boats, kayaks, based on impact of the flood. “So initially these are some of the items, as we conduct the after action a more detailed list can be constructed as it pertains to marine assets and other type of response equipment to deal with such incidents.”
Newsday asked Wint if the ODPM had considered the purchase of marine assets during last heavy flooding in communities in South Trinidad. He said “The ODPM did procure some marine assets which were distributed to agencies along with some donations from corporate Trinidad and Tobago, but more is still needed and the government is to resource the other agencies going forward”. He also admitted that dinghies were given to members of the Defence Force last Friday to assist in rescue operations. However he maintained “We cannot supply all the response agencies, when more funds are released to all the agencies they will procure assets as they see necessary to facilitate their responsibilities”.