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Act now before it’s too late!!

Act now before it’s too late!!

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EDITOR: From the time the nation was informed that La Soufriere was erupting effusively again, several actions and plans would have been activated, but as a concerned citizen I am asking a few questions and making a few comments before it is too late!

Do we have a list of all residents who reside in the Red Zone, including those who might be bed-ridden and who will need special attention and know exactly where they are located? Do these persons know which shelters they will be taken to? Are arrangements in place for persons in the affected areas who might stay with relatives or friends to be provided with food packages to ease the burden of providing additional food for these evacuees?

Have the public buildings, including hotels and guest houses, which have been identified as shelters been sanitized and fumigated in advance, so that if an evacuation order is given that these buildings will be safe to accept the evacuees? Have essential items like cots and blankets been secured for these evacuees? Have water tanks been placed at these designated shelters and filled to ensure that there is a safe water supply should the national water supply be contaminated?

Have areas in these buildings been identified for persons

who might be ill with contagious conditions, so that they can be isolated to avoid the spread of infections before they are taken to specialized facilities? Have nurses been identified to work at these shelters and are provisions made for their safety and comfort, as well as provisions to store essential medications safely?

Are there back-up plans to evacuate residents from Fancy and Owia, either by sea or air, if the Rabacca area becomes impassable to vehicular or pedestrian traffic? Will all vehicles to be used to evacuate persons from the danger zones have access to fuel, or is there a MOU in place for these vehicles to get fuel from the nearest gas station in their area of operation?

We have to be mindful that we are currently in an undeclared ‘state of emergency’, we have dengue and Covid to contend with, plus the possibility of a violent eruption. All these real scenarios will require the support of the health services, security forces, essential services like electricity and water, the supermarkets and wholesale food suppliers.

In short, the entire gamut of support agencies NEED to be activated and in a state of readiness to cushion the impact of these anomalies in nature. These are all issues to be dealt with in the short or immediate term.

If the eruptive phase increases beyond what is imaginable and affects residents from the Orange and Yellow zones, then the evacuation process will also increase exponentially. Now is the time to begin negotiations with the owners of empty cruise liners which are stationed in Barbados and St. Maarten to be prepared to absorb some of the evacuees, as these ships have the capacity to accommodate several thousand persons. Locals who work in the cruise industry will be invaluable assets if the situation reaches this point.

  • Cruise ships can use their tenders to move evacuees from the Owia port, while at a safe distance in open water.

And what about prisoners stationed at Belle Isle that is in the danger zone? It might be safer to keep these inmates on a ship by themselves, and those low-risk prisoners or those coming to the end of their terms can be electronically tagged, ‘released’ and used for daily clean-up at emergency shelters.

And from a communications standpoint, this is the IDEAL time for NEMO to deploy its ECN communications system that is carded to be delivered this month. Radios can be provided at all shelters, NEMO warehouses, in the hands of shelter managers and managers of essential services among other important stakeholders like PM, COP, CMO and GG. It is good to note here, that since the volcano began to erupt effusively, local radio amateurs have been in daily contact with radio officers from CDEMA and DEM in Barbados (twice daily) and stand ready to provide emergency communications services when called upon.

I don’t claim to have all the questions or answers, but before it is too late let’s address these questions now. And let’s be realistic, our PM cannot answer all these questions, he has his own family matters, along with state matters to address, so this is a call for NATIONAL UNITY, a call for us to put aside petty political prejudices; the Good Book says, when the rain falls, it falls on the good and the bad; all of us are currently affected and it will take the combined effort of ALL of us and in a coordinated manner, to lessen or mitigate the effect of this three-headed monster. May the Good Lord be merciful to this nation in these trying times.

Donald De Riggs

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