Twenty-four of the island’s 30 district emergency organisations are up and running, and Department of Emergency Management officials say the operational ones are prepared to pick up any shortfall.
At a briefing at the DEM’s headquarters, Programme Officer with responsibility for community preparedness, Danielle Skeete, said the challenge was finding volunteers.
“I can assure you of the 30 district emergency organisations, we have 24 who are currently active. I would hasten to say however that they are all functioning at different levels because clearly they are going to have different resources and persons in the different areas that they are.
“A lot of them have already met with their membership. They have already started preparations, they have gone through their communities doing the community walk-throughs. I think this is going to be of vital importance to us because should we be impacted by a system, they know what the state of the community is at this point, so they know what it looks like after which will assist us when we have to help anybody or give any assistance,” she stated.
She noted that they had also been looking at the most vulnerable in the communities.
The DEOs are traditionally the voluntary arm of preparedness and often part of the first response during hurricane season, but Skeete said with the challenge the units were having finding young people to join up at least one had recommended establishing a youth arm to see if that could turn things around.
“The other six are in a state of transition where you have persons who have been at the helm of these organisations for years, they are finding it difficult to encourage younger persons to come and join the group.
“What we have to do as well is get the message out there and let them see how important it is, our younger people. We have a society now where it seems like we have to have something in order to give back. So we are going to try very hard,” she said.
The St. George North DEO chairman had expressed an interest just last weekend in attempting to start a young arm of the DEO, Hinds said.
“This is something I am encouraging. He was saying he has been having discussions with some of the churches, etc in his community and one of the things that came up was that there are some young people who are interested but they are not sure what it is they can do.
“So we started very brief discussions to find out maybe the possibility of starting a youth arm and if this works, maybe this is something that we can implement in some of the other DEOs,” said Hinds. (LB)