Hinds confident in disaster preparedness


National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds and CoP(Ag.) McDonald Jacob visit the Brian Lara Parkway during the National Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Month Caravan on Friday. -JEFF K MAYERS

National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds expressed confidence in the ability of the various emergency authorities and related agencies to effectively mitigate the effects of disasters.

Hinds made the remarks after visiting the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) Disaster Preparedness Caravan on Brian Lara Drive, Port of Spain on Friday.

The caravan was intended to inform the public about the different agencies that will be mobilized in the event of a disaster and to raise awareness of measures that could be introduced to minimize risk and damage.

Hinds said more could be done to improve various parts of operations and planning, but he was happy with the strategies in place to deal with natural and man-made disasters.

Referring to a major earthquake that hit TT in 2018, Hinds said the country’s infrastructure was strong enough that no widespread damage was reported.

“Recently, I was on top of the new Police Credit Union building in Barataria, so I had the opportunity to take my look at the whole environment from this very panoramic view, and I saw houses in loss of sight And when I looked at the quality of these houses, I was very impressed: concrete houses, well covered, well ordered, well structured, I did not see a single hut.

“I remembered, looking at this… a few years ago we had an earthquake that was 7.6 on the Richter scale, and not a single TT building collapsed.

“So when I tell you we didn’t come from zero, we are blessed and well prepared.”

The country relies on the expertise of those at the ODPM and others, he said, and he was confident.

He added: “There is still a lot to do. We will continue to work together to make Trinidad and Tobago a better, safer and more secure place.

ODPM CEO, retired Major General Rodney Smart, said the caravan, which is also expected to visit San Fernando and Scarborough, Tobago, in the coming weeks, is a crucial part of the disaster management plan. of her agency, because she raises public awareness.

He said that with the start of hurricane season in June, preparation and good planning were essential and promised that the agency and related organizations were ready.

“This month we have decided that the TT needs to focus on prevention and preparedness at the national level, and the reason for this is that we are approaching hurricane season in the Atlantic, and this period throughout the region. was the most devastating.

“Fortunately for us in TT we were spared but we have to be prepared just in case so it will happen all over the country.”

A report from a Cabinet-appointed committee to investigate the case of a Trinidad-wide blackout in February said one of the weaknesses noted was the lack of involvement of the ODPM. .

The caravan included the police, the regiment’s engineer battalion, fire services and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, among other agencies.