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NEMO warns about dangers of storms

NEMO warns about dangers of storms

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If a Category Three hurricane strikes St.Vincent and the Grenadines every six to eight houses out of 10 would be destroyed.

Howie Prince, Director of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) made this startling revelation on Monday, June 26, 2006, at a meeting with proprietors of private emergency shelters, mainly churches.{{more}}

Prince disclosed that this is the finding of the “recent” 2004 survey on the housing stock of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He explained that his organization received the findings of the survey a mere week before the disastrous Hurricane Ivan struck, affecting St. Vincent and the Grenadines, other countries in the region, and even parts of the United States.

“It tells us that the process called Shelter Management has to be taken much, much more seriously,” Prince warned.

He said that even if the country is spared a Category Three Hurricane, tropical storms may still cause significant damage.

Speaking of the vulnerability of the nation’s housing stock Prince noted that last year when Emily affected the country, 666 houses received significant damage; and the previous year when there was Ivan some 740 dwellings were damaged.

Prince said there are not enough government buildings to be used in the event that there is a storm, hence the reason why churches across the country have been identified as emergency centres.

The NEMO Director called on the representatives of the clergy to collectively pray for protection against the elements.

He also asked the church leaders to remember NEMO’s co-ordinating team in their prayers.

Remarks were also made by Susan Dougan, Chief Education Officer and Chairperson of the Shelter Management Committee. Dougan stressed that Vincentians should remain cognizant that hurricanes are not the only disasters that the country can encounter. She said there are other possible disasters such as landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc.

Dougan said for the effective implementation of any programme relating to shelter management a commitment of the community is very important. She pointed out that all plans that NEMO have are supported by legislation.

Earlier this month the government enacted the National Emergency and Disaster Management law.

The principal objects of this Act are: To provide for effective disaster management for the State; and to establish a framework for ensuring that agencies, organizations and persons involved in disaster management effectively perform their functions.

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