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Ramroop: T&T not ready for earthquake hit

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Chairman of the Office of Disaster and Preparedness Management (ODPM), Dr Stephen Ramroop, says his organisation is concerned about T&T’s ability to handle a major earthquake. Ramroop made the statement on Sunday during a community-outreach tour of areas in Diego Martin and Petit Valley that were seriously affected by flooding and landslides in August, last year.  “We are really worried about the earthquakes,” Ramroop told the T&T Guardian during the tour. “A recent report coming out of Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction says that T&T has one of the highest risks for earthquakes.”  


Ramroop represented T&T at the conference, which was held in Geneva, Switzerland, in May. “If we have an earthquake it is going to mess up our country and it will cost hundreds of million of dollars to rehabilitate our private sector and urban capacity, which we have developed in recent years,” Ramroop said. He explained that the country was well prepared for hurricanes and storms, but admitted it is not equipped for earthquakes. “We are better off dealing with a hurricane or storm because they both give you a warning. When an earthquake or terrorist attack strikes you don’t have time. It happens suddenly,” Ramroop said. 


Ramroop said that the ODPM currently had six shipping containers that were filled with emergency supplies, including food, beds and cleaning equipment, which could be transported to communities within an hour of a disaster. He noted that while equipment and supplies are important, the ODPM is now focusing on community-readiness for disasters through its Communities Organised and Ready for Emergencies (CORE) programme. He said the programme seeks to develop a culture of “community-based resilience” in T&T. 


“Evidence all over the world has shown that no matter what you do, or how ready you are, it is the community readiness that is very important,” Ramroop said. During Sunday’s tour, Ramroop and dozens of volunteers visited scores residents who were affected by last year’s flooding. The damage caused by the flooding was estimated to be more than $100 million. First aid kits and water-inflatable bags were distributed to the residents. Officials also assessed each household’s level of disaster preparedness and gave suggestions for improvements. ODPM officials also met with the residents to discuss their (residents’) personal experiences of last year’s flooding, which, Ramroop said, would assist in the development additional national disaster management strategies. 


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