Nearly a month into the hurricane season, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has still not managed to replenish some crucial emergency relief supplies used up in the aftermath of the massive January 12 earthquake in Haiti and the recent civil unrest in sections of west Kingston.
Yesterday, while acknowledging that some crucial emergency relief supplies were still lacking, ODPEM Director General Ronald Jackson declined to put a dollar figure on how much was needed to replenish the stock.
Jackson told The Gleaner, however, that his agency has never been able to cater for the baseline 150,000 people in need of supplies during a hurricane.
“Jamaica has never had the resources to cover the 150,000 persons and we need to at least get to that stage,” he said. “(However), what I would rather see is a cut in the number of persons in vulnerable areas.”
Donor funding targeted
Jackson said mitigation should become priority number one in order to reduce government spending.
Among the crucial supplies, he said ODPEM would be seeking donor funding to help replenish are quick-erect shelters which are crucial in lifting the added pressure off some of the schools being used as emergency shelters.
He also pointed to water bladders, waste-disposal facilities, blankets, tarpaulin and other temporary roofing coverage.
Jackson said that while these are considered crucial, the lack of supplies should not be used as a baseline to measure the country’s state of readiness.
“If this was so, then I am saying that we have never been ready for a hurricane. We are behind in terms of emergency supplies, but in terms of the level of coordination and getting the information out to the public, we are ready,” he said.
Jackson added that, of the more than 900 emergency shelters islandwide, 85 per cent are ready to accommodate persons in the event of a hurricane. Of this figure, he said 150 will be used as priority shelters.