A National Disaster Management office organized simulation exercise for lower Bath Estate on Saturday April 21st, 2012 has proven to be a success. The evacuation drill exercise conducted at Paradise Valley, Bath Estate sought to engage residents on how they should respond to flash floods.
The exercise was conducted in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Caribbean Disaster Management Project (CADM) Phase two project and other supporting agencies.
Ms. Lolita Garcia, ESS Consultant on JICA Project said “the exercise is designed to build the capacity of the office of disaster management in Dominica to increase the resilience of the communities and the national team in dealing with flood hazards”.
Miss Garcia said evacuation procedures have been developed and circulated to residents of Bath Estate to guide them on how they should respond in the event of flash floods.
“Based on the input from the hazard map and the early warning system, we have developed along with the participation of the residents of Bath Estate the evacuation procedures that they can follow to ensure that there is safe evacuation, thereby reducing fatalities and injuries during the time of evacuation”.
Miss Garcia said there are key guidelines which residents must take into consideration in the event of a flash flood.
“What we are endorsing here is early evacuation. We don’t wait until the flood invades our houses but that we are given enough time through the early warning system to evacuate- maybe about twenty-thirty minutes up to one hour before the flood actually occurs. That is what we are practicing here during the evacuation drill. Practice the function of the team that we have organized so that the community has the resilience, has the capacity to handle flash floods in the future’.
Garcia is hoping that a sustainability plan can be put in place following this exercise.
“I hope a sustainability plan that includes several agencies and people who will move this forward so that the entire Dominica especially those communities which are prone to flooding can develop the same resilience that we hope we have developed here at Bath Estate”.
Lyndsay George a Member of the Disaster Mitigation National Team is impressed with the high level of interest and participation demonstrated by residents of Bath Estate towards the exercise.
“We believe that this exercise was very fruitful. We believe that the community responded properly to the exercise. We had previously gone through a full week of training to sensitize people of the importance conducting such a simulation exercise and the members of the national team as well as the community all responded tremendously to this exercise”.
Laura Frederick of the Disaster Preparedness Team of Bath Estate said the people’s interest and enthusiasm in the project was evident during the more than one hour exercise.
“This afternoon’s experience has been a great success. We had preparations for the past two weeks, every evening preparing for this and I must say that I am very thankful for the participation that we got today”.
Saturday’s evacuation drill was the culmination of community based disaster management exercises spearheaded by the National Disaster Management office to train residents across the country on how to effectively respond to disasters.
Other components of the community based disaster management exercises include flood hazard mapping and flood early warning system. This (JICA) CADM Phase two project is being carried out in five Caribbean countries including Belize, Grenada, St.Lucia and Guyana.