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Take disaster preparedness seriously in 2011: NEMO

Take disaster preparedness seriously in 2011: NEMO

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The National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) is urging Vincentians to take disaster preparedness seriously in 2011.{{more}}

Acting Director Michelle Forbes, during an interview with SEARCHLIGHT, stated that Vincentians should make this one of their New Year resolutions.

“We have just started a New Year. It’s time for us to make being ready for emergencies a New Year’s resolution,” Forbes said.

Speaking on the issue of being prepared in the event of an earthquake, Forbes stated that NEMO is in the process of completing a draft national earthquake preparedness plan. Forbes, however, stated that NEMO, in 2009, launched an earthquake readiness programme which focused on informing the public on the procedures to be taken when an earthquake strikes. NEMO has also a series of educational programmes in schools and communities. The programmes will continue in this year.

NEMO began the rigorous educational programmes after the November 29, 2007, earthquake, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake that affected several Caribbean countries. It originated off the coast of Martinique.

Just recently, Acting Director of the Seismic Research Centre of the University of the West Indies Joan Latchman warned the Eastern Caribbean that an 8.0 magnitude earthquake will hit the region any day now. Latchman stated that an earthquake of such magnitude is expected every 100 years. The last major earthquake, Latchman said, was in 1843.

Commenting on Latchman’s statements, Forbes said that it is not a cause for persons to panic. Stating that an earthquake can happen at any time, Forbes said that the most important thing is that persons know what to do in the event that an earthquake happens.

“We have this thing that we call ‘drop, cover and roll’ “ Forbes said. She added that when persons start to feel the tremor that they should not panic and run about, but they must focus on protecting themselves, and ensuring that they are out of harm’s way. Forbes stated that one way is to get under something sturdy, such as a desk or table.

Forbes added that Vincentians should educate themselves on the safety procedures and that parents should start educating their children on how to protect themselves in the event of an earthquake. She also advised that business places have a disaster preparedness plan. Information on preparation for disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other national disasters can be obtained from NEMO.

Forbes disclosed that NEMO’s plans for the rest of the year include an assessment of Hurricane Tomas, a review of national plans and training and educational workshops.

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