West Coast ready for the stormChairman of the St James DEO, Selwyn Brooks, said he was seeing the results of the organization’s work. (Lennox Devonish)
By Carlos Atwell | Fri, June 29, 2012 - 12:04 AM
THE HURRICANE SEASON is upon us once again and one wonders how the West Coast, which has been prone to flooding in recent times, will fare this year.
This week, Street Beat sought to find out from a few West Coast business owners how prepared they were “for when the high wind comes”.
Carsten and Zoe Flindt said it all came down to insurance and knowing how to navigate it. They own Patisserie Flindt on First Street, Holetown, St James.
They said they had not suffered any natural disasters but recalled when a fire temporarily put them out of business.
“We had a fire in October 2011 which cleaned out our bottom floor and closed us for two months,” said Carsten.
Zoe also recalled when water from a burst pipe flooded the business 14 years ago.
After such difficulties, the pair said they now had better knowledge of how insurance companies worked and ensured they had all their disaster emergency gear ready.
They said Holetown was much less prone to flooding now since the drainage had been improved and with the building of the Limegrove Lifestyle Centre.
Dennis Brathwaite, maintenance manager of All Seasons, said the hotel made extensive equipment and safety checks.
“We check all our smoke alarms and have had training with the fire department. We check our fire blankets and ensure our torch and emergency lighting have batteries and we have first aid kits placed in strategic areas which we keep maintained,” he said.
Brathwaite said the Palm Avenue, Sunset Crest property was situated on a hill so flood damage was not a major problem but they did have problems with something else – coconut trees.
“Once a coconut tree fell in [windy] weather and damaged one of our apartments and some fencing so now we make sure they are properly maintained,” he said.
Sharon Coyle, the vice-president of compliance and client relations at JLT Towner, was confident they were ready for any emergency.
“We’ll be ready. We have roller shutters, emergency food packets and disaster plans we revise every year. Right now, we are [even] considering running a simulation.”
Coyle said she remembered having to relocate once due to water damage, although it was not due to flooding. She added that she was not pleased with the level of preparedness of her business neighbours.
“I don’t see as much preparedness as I would like. People need to realize something can happen any minute,” she said.
All of the businesses mentioned have one thing in common; they have all worked with the St James District Emergency Organization (DEO) and had high praise for it.
Chairman Selwyn Brooks said there was a much higher level of disaster preparedness now than in years past.
“Those in my catchment area are taking it seriously and some business houses have accepted our recommendations and implemented them.
They have responded to the overtures by putting in place what they need to.”
Brooks said the organization featured a unique programme not offered by any other DEO that included VHF radio training.
“We have 12 trained people so when the shelters are open, we will send two operators to each shelter who will communicate to the head office.”
Brooks said the DEO also had a number of trained nurses, had engaged four doctors who had pledged their assistance and a number of trained damage assessors but there was still lots of work to do.
“I am happy with the DEO but not the community as there is still a lot to be done. We have 23 churches in the catchment area but while people are responding to the calls for meetings, we would like
to see greater numbers,” he said.
- Editor's Choice