As part of a field training exercise, Damage Assessment Training Officer at the BSS, Valerie Taylor (second right), interviews Silvia Griffith (right) about the “damage” to her home. (S.Austin/BGIS)

With the hurricane season less than three months away, Government is currently working to augment the number of damage assessment officers required in case of any disaster.

Word of this has come from Senior Field Investigator at the Barbados Statistical Service, Wayne Davis, who said some districts had more than enough damage assessment officers, while others had a shortfall and some were presently not being manned.

Mr. Davis said: “We have 583 areas to cover across Barbados and about 700 people should be in place to manage them. Some of the districts are very large, so more than one person is required to work them.

“For example, in the Scotland District in St. Andrew, there is an area that spans from Bawdens and Turners Hall at the bottom of the hill, to districts at the top of the hill, such as Roebuck and Sedge Pond on the border of St. Peter. The damage assessment officer who lives at the top of the hill may not be able to get to the bottom if there is a disaster, therefore, for those large areas in the rural parishes, for example, St. Lucy, St. Peter, St. Andrew, etcetera, we are trying to get additional officers to work them.”

The Senior Field Investigator made the comments on the sidelines of a two-day Damage Assessment Training Workshop for 60 participants drawn from Government agencies and District Emergency Organisations.

Damage assessment is the collection of data by Damage Assessment Officers on the level and extent of the damage done to the society after a major event, whether it is a storm, flood, hurricane, or tsunami. Damage assessment officers visit assigned areas that have been impacted by the system and collect data assessment statistics to allow Government agencies to plan how to deal with the disaster.

Mr. Davis pointed out that damage assessment officers worked in or in walking distance of the areas they reside, so that if a major disaster occurred, they would not have to travel long distances.

He said he was very pleased with the interest shown in the damage assessment training and disclosed that another session would be held in early May for another group of public servants. He stressed, however, that those persons 18 years and over who were interested in becoming damage assessment officers in their community should call the Barbados Statistical Service at 535-2600 and speak to him or Valerie Taylor.

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