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Thomas: DEM did its best

marciadottin, [email protected]

Thomas: DEM did its best

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Department of Emergency Management (DEM) director, Judy Thomas, says they are things that were lacking in communities that should have been in place in preparation for a natural disaster.
“This is the hurricance season. It started back in June and we have told people what they needed to do all year long . This is coming on to the end of the hurricane season and it should not jump start the emergency services, and jump start the population at large.
“They are preliminary things that we have found that are lacking in the communities that should have been in place,” Thomas said.
Thomas told the SUNDAY?SUN, the DEM?had done the best it could do under the circumstances.
“This is a fast onset storm;, we never had the raditional warning announcements . . . we didn’t have the advisories, the watches, the warnings, we had almost a straight tropical storm warning.
“At 3 p.m. in the afternoon in diminishing light is a very difficult situation but we were able to successfully pulled together a management team operating in the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and with keen representation from the agencies and emergency services, we were able to ride it out here in the night and gather a lot of information that could jump start the process now that the all-clear has been given,” he said.
Thomas said the DEM would be in the parishes and communities working on getting the list finalised on the possible people that have been impacted and then putting people on the street to do an assessment to determine the level of assistance to persons affected.
Thomas said criticisms the DEM had responded slowly to disaster preparation were unwarranted and unreasonable.
 “We had to wait on till the warning was given based on the information given to to the Met?office and their deliberations with the National Hurricane Centre.
“The reconnaissance aircraft would have gone in and we would have had to wait till that came back out of the system to indicate what kind of intensification one can expect and I can’t go ahead of that process becasuse they are the people who initiate the warning mechanism for Barbados,” she said.
Thomas said there had been major dislocation but no major injuries.
 “We do the best that we can and we are confident that we have not had any major medical disruption and I am happy that no one is out there suffering badly and we will do the best we can to provide some kind of support for the people who have been impacted  in their households and homes,” she said.
The DEM boss said the reconstruction process had already started.
“The all-clear has been given that allows people to go out and about but we have to jump start the system for rehabilitation, and that is putting back temporary housing, where we can effect repairs and do medium and long-term reconstruction. That process is starting.” (MK)