One All Clear Will be Given to Public after Disaster

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Judy Thomas, Director of the Department of Emergency Management.??

Only one "All Clear" will be issued to members of the public following a natural disaster.

Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Judy Thomas, made this clear last Friday during a Press conference to mark the start of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season, at the department’s Warrens, St. Michael headquarters.

"That All Clear will emanate from the National Emergency Operating Centre where the operatives are managing the crisis," she said.

She explained the All Clear, whether issued by the Prime Minister, Attorney General, or herself, would indicate that the Barbados Meteorological Office had determined that the system had passed the area and would give permission for persons to venture outside.

Ms. Thomas stressed that the only movement in the country before an All Clear was given should be that of the emergency services and utility companies whose jobs were to assess the environment and ensure it was safe for members of the public.

"We have had instances in other countries where people survive the storm but they lose their lives because of treacherous conditions on the outside after people venture out. We want to minimise that kind of impact on the society, so there will be one All Clear," the Director stressed.

She also disclosed that the Emergency Management Orders under the Emergency Management Act would also be reviewed to explore the possibilities of activating an emergency response before a disaster struck.

"The question of whether or not the Governor General would issue a proclamation going into the storm is one that we would have to get Cabinet approval for," Ms. Thomas said.

She explained that traditionally Government made an assessment after the event and determined that an emergency situation existed.

However, the Director pointed out that given Barbados’ level of vulnerability and the intensity of the particular storm, the level of chaos could be predicted allowing for the activating of an emergency response before the event.

Meanwhile, the Director is advocating that officials of the Barbados Meteorological Office engage in conversations with the public even before warnings are issued.

"I want to request that the Met Office looks at having open discussion via the mass media about possibilities of the development of systems. This is before you actually do the formal notification of watches and warnings," she said.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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