The Piparo mud volcano has gone silent and regional director of the Office of Disaster Preparedness Eric Mackie believes this silence has lulled residents into a false sense of security.
During a meeting held at the Piparo Community Centre on Saturday afternoon, Mackie expressed disappointment that after extensive training not a single member of the Community Emergency Response team showed up.
"We trained 11 people and not one of them is here. I am disappointed," Mackie told Guardian Media. He said that despite the absence of key community personnel, the ODPM and various arms of national security were pressing ahead to hammer out the final details of the Emergency Response Contingency Plan.
He also said that they were trying to finalise the purchase of four sirens to be placed at strategic points around the community. This could be set up within a month if all goes well, he added.
He also said that the volcano will be monitored remotely so that there could be an early warning if the volcano gets active. He said the experts did not believe that the volcano was sleeping but reiterated that excessive rainfall could trigger further activity at the volcano.
During the meeting, residents were given several scenarios and were asked to explain what could be done in the event of these emergencies.
But residents expressed disappointment in the authorities.
Jainup Mohammed said the 20 tonnes of hot-mix promised by Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein never materialised. She said the roads were very deplorable and they were concerned that if the volcano erupts, there will be difficulties in getting out of the zones.
But Planning and Development officer of the ODPM Anwar Baksh said that the plan was for residents to seek shelter within their community and not necessarily leave the village if tragedy strikes.
Mackie explained that in emergencies there was a term called "shelter in position," which means that once an area is safe within the community they could stay in that zone. he said they did not want residents to become victims by trying to help a victim who is in distress. CERT personnel and first response teams will be on hand to assist people in trouble, he added.
Resident Shaffick Mohammed said some residents would have easier access to assist residents who live nearby but Mackie warned that this could pose a hazard.
Baksh asked residents if they had prepared their "get-ready-to-go" bags and if they were familiar with escape routes. They all said yes. Baksh said the details gathered from the meeting will be utilised in the finalisation of the emergency contingency plan.
On September 21, the volcano roared to life causing massive fractures and damages to homes. Since then volcanic fumes have been hissing from the volcano's fissures while electricity poles have been leaning precariously. After two months of constant monitoring, the volcano went silent.
It last erupted 22 years ago and experts say it is due for another eruption soon.