The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) carried out a blended national level disaster simulation exercise of a Category 4 hurricane on Friday last week. The ODPM did the exercise for representatives of the private sector, civil society, and international assistance providers, represented by the US Embassy.
In a release, the ODPM said during the exercise, the hurricane caused extensive flooding and wind damage to businesses and residential properties, resulting in persons being evacuated to shelters. Participants were challenged to think about how they would prepare their own organisations for the slow onset weather event and the adequacy of their continuity of operations plans. They then had to critically consider how they could support the national effort to provide relief to displaced persons both in Trinidad and Tobago, while ensuring the safety of their staff given the health concerns posed by covid19.
The ODPM said organisations were placed in five working groups based on their capabilities to provide cooked meals, foodstuff, accommodation, transportation and warehousing, and coordination. It said this first-time initiative provided a platform for a more integrated approach to strengthening relationships and actions, which ultimately could lead to speedier and more structured delivery of disaster relief to affected individuals and vulnerable populations.
The release stated the participants were from over 25 of the biggest name brands and were identified for their ability to assist in national disaster preparedness and relief. They participated either live or virtually in what was the fifth in a series of Whole of Society simulation exercises, which the ODPM is using to prepare societal bodies in the event of any weather-related emergency, while educating them about the national response framework – the protocols for national level disaster response.
The simulation was managed from the National Emergency Operations Centre at Tacarigua and was done in preparation for an anticipated above normal Wet and Hurricane Seasons.
ODPM CEO retired Major General Rodney Smart stressed that disaster management is everyone’s business. He said the nation would be better prepared and capable of building back faster and stronger in the event of a disaster through strong public, private and international partnerships. He invited interested individuals and organisations to offer their services to the ODPM, so that TT would become an even more disaster ready and resilient nation.