The National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) has begun to mount preparations for this year’s hurricane season, which is forecast to be more active than that of 2020.
With regard to community shelters, the disaster-management agency says “the Public Works Department has completed its inspection of the various buildings and the list will be published shortly.”
NODS has been assessing these facilities to ensure that hand-washing stations are available, and says cleaning kits will be provided to the disaster coordinators, in keeping with COVID-19 protocols.
To date, several training sessions and workshops have been completed with staff and volunteers from all 17 disaster districts. Meetings were also held with various agencies on their preparedness for the season.
“During the workshops … staff reviewed a number of plans and policies … to ensure that challenging issues can be adequately addressed, like the donation and distribution of relief items,” a release from NODS says.
On the other hand, the volunteer training focused on Community Emergency Response Teams, and covered the basics in areas such as First Aid, search and rescue, and map reading, as well as telecommunications and fire safety.
NODS says that further training in damage assessment will also be done with community volunteers.
The national search and rescue unit was also recently certified to the standards of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) – (pronounced in-sa-rag).
Efforts are also underway to provide disaster districts with community storage units called Bokomi (bucko-me) stations, which will be equipped with emergency supplies. One of these units has since been sent to Barbuda.
NODS reports that it has also acquired a number of VHF radios, satellite phones and other such equipment to enhance its ability to communicate on island; with Barbuda; and others further abroad in cases of disaster.