Disaster relief warehouse set for completion next week

By Johann Earle, Stabroek news, Fri, 20 Jan 2006, 09:15

Georgetown, January 19, 2006 (Stabroek News) - The regional disaster relief warehouse being built at Timehri is due for completion next week and should be put to use to bring relief to scores of residents of East Coast, West Bank and other flooded areas.

Colonel Chabilall Ramsarup, Head of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) said the warehouse would be galvanised into action during the present rainy season if needed. Ramsarup said on Tuesday that the emergency disaster relief body was gearing for the possibility of evacuating persons from areas under severe flooding. Asked about the capacity of the CDC to manage an evacuation, he said the body had the capacity and was prepared, and the warehouse would serve this purpose.

Ramsarup said he was confident the warehouse would come in useful during this current flood. He noted that the CDC is involved in the coordination of relief efforts and assessment of the situation on the ground and is monitoring the developments in the flooded areas.

Stabroek News understands that a draft of the legislation to govern a national disaster response is with the Attorney General's Cham-bers. This will be expected to guide the CDC in its role of disaster management. This newspaper has also learned that the Civil Defence Com-mission (CDC) is engaged in putting together disaster mitigation contingency plans in collaboration with the United Nations Development Pro-gramme. Why it wasn't better prepared and enabled for these floods is a question already being asked by some.

The CDC was in a state of dormancy when the floods started in January last year and could not marshal the necessary response, leading to government co-opting personnel from the Disciplined Forces to set up the Joint Operations Centre, which coordinated the early res-ponse. The CDC was later afforded greater capacity with the secondment of GDF second-in-command Colonel Ramsarup to its helm.

Ron Harris of the US Embassy said on Tuesday that the contractor, Gayadin Construction Company was putting the finishing touches to the warehouse, which is to have more space than originally planned.

According to Harris, the contractor expects to be finished by January 24. Harris said that he is awaiting an estimate from the contractor for the additional cost for the extra dimensions on the warehouse. The contract for the building of the facility was awarded to Gayadin Con-struction Company on July 28 and the cost of construction was estimated to be US$160,000.

He said too that there had been some delays in the finishing of the building because of the rain. He said the warehouse will stockpile emergency medical supplies and blankets, but no food or boats.

The stockpiled items will not only be for Guyana but for deployment in disasters around the region. The warehouse is being built by the United States Southern Command and the United States Agency for Interna-tional Development (USAID) in collaboration with the Caribbean Disaster Emer-gency Response Agency (CDERA). The construction had been set for a much earlier date and originally the facility was to be located in Georgetown but this was changed after officials considered the proximity of the new site to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport at Timehri.

Harris said there are similar facilities in Jamaica and Barbados. With the network of warehouses in place, the reaction time in responding to disasters would be a lot quicker, US Embassy officials said.

The US is also providing training for the efficient management of the centre and supplies so that aid would be smoothly distributed. Training will be done in the maintaining of stocks and stock-ordering procedures. There will also be an element of computerisation in the management of stocks. On August 30, Commander of the United States Southern Command, General Bantz Craddock turned the sod for the construction of the facility in the presence of Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon.

Source: http://www.stabroeknews.com/index.pl/article_local_news?id=41949400

CDEMA Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Resilience Way, Lower Estate, St. Michael Tel: (246) 434-4880, Fax: (246) 271-3660
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