The ratio of fire hydrants to residences and access to transport are two of the biggest challenges identified early by the St. James Central District Emergency Organisation that is in the midst of a study of that constituency.
The West Coast Community Profile Study that begun late February, said chairman of the DEO, Selwyn Brooks, was giving them an opportunity to interface with the community and already they had eight expressions of interest from persons who wanted to sign on.
“The purpose of the study really is to get that more detailed interaction about disaster and emergency preparedness. It has allowed us to identify the gaps in what we already know and what needs to be done,” he said of the study that encompasses the stretch from Batts Rock to Paynes Bay.
Stating the volunteers carrying out the study had now reached the last but largest district, Paynes Bay, Brooks told Barbados TODAY: “We have a large population in Paynes Bay where the housing stock is predominantly wood and the road system, they are now doing some road repairs or improvements which might help to drain the water. However, it is going to bring the water down much quicker and they can’t put any wells along the west coast because of the water table.
“So there is going to be an avalanche of water at the bottom of Risk Road as a result of the repairs unless that water is trapped further up in some kind of facility.”
For the most part, he said the DEO was prepared for hurricane season since it had done previous studies to identify the challenges, and also from interactions with the residents.
He said though the various studies, including this latest one, had revealed a number of challenges they would have to look at.
“The whole west coast is not new to us, but the purpose is to have that detailed interaction to also give residents information… You have a large population where the ratio of fire hydrant to housing stock we have clearly identified a deficiency.
“Also, we have limited opportunity to put in wells given the gradient, so all the wells would have to be put as high up as possible. We have also been able to clearly identify that in the event of any incident along the west coast we are going to have transportation challenges, therefore access in and out will be a challenge.
“We have also so far clearly identified that persons need to look at their whole family structure in terms of how they disseminate information. There was one family where the children were very involved in the whole discussion, and I am talking secondary school children, where the parents seemed not to be too perturbed. So these are some of the things that we need to continually address,” he said. (LB)