Thursday, July 30– The Territory established its first Satellite Emergency Operations Centre(EOC) at the East End/Long Look(EE/LL) Fire Station following a partnership between the Department of Disaster Management(DDM) and the Caribbean Development Bank(CDB).
His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert while speaking at the handover ceremony on Monday called the project timely for the hurricane season, and said it reflects a positive response to lessons learnt from the disaster impacts of 2017.
Governor Jaspert said, “We pray we don’t face any other disasters, but should we face those disasters, we now have a local base within the community to serve as a communications hub linked in with the national effort.”
The handover was also an official recognition of the recommissioning of the EE/LL Fire Station. Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities and Representative for the Fifth District Honourable Kye Rymer explained that having sustained extensive damage in 2017, the station was out of service until earlier this year.
Honourable Rymer said, “It gives me great pleasure to be here this morning so that we can formally open this fire station. My ministry has assigned a new firefighting apparatus to the EE/LL station, and I am grateful for the hard work and investment of Territory Rotarians in refurbishing the station’s roof, windows and flooring.”
Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture Dr. the Honourable Natalio Wheatley, who represents the Seventh District, also applauded the efforts of the Rotarians.
Honourable Wheatley expressed his appreciation that EE/LL residents have access to resources including the new firefighting vehicle and the Satellite EOC.
He added, “A big community as ours here in the Seventh and the Eight Districts deserves to have these types of services. We need to be able to respond quickly in the event of a storm.”
Opposition Leader and Representative for the Eighth District Honourable Marlon Penn added his thanks on behalf of the people of East End/Long Look and encouraged others in the community to do their part to be ready for disasters and emergencies this season.
Honourable Penn said, “We have always been a community of volunteers who give back of our time to support our community, so I know that the community has that skill set. My clarion call today is that we continue to give back to ensure that we have the cadre of expertise necessary in the case of disasters.”
Establishing Satellite EOCs such as the one in East End is one of several initiatives under the SMART Communities Project, which seeks to build resilience in select local communities thanks to funding provided by the CDB’s Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund, shared SMART Communities Project Manager Ms. Sheniah Armstrong.
Ms. Armstrong said, “A SMART Community is one that uses sustained mitigation, adaptation and resilient techniques to resist, absorb, accommodate and recover from the effects of hazards in a timely and efficient manner, ultimately enhancing the community’s resiliency and reducing its vulnerability.”
Other initiatives under the SMART Communities Project include Mangrove Restoration with the Jost Van Dykes Preservation Society, flood mitigation works at Nibbs Ghut and the Valerie O. Thomas Community Centre, and community cleanups with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, BVI Red Cross, Rotary Family, and the Tortola Lions Club.