NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (August 19, 2013) – Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Management in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) Hon. Vance Amory has described the plan put in place by the Nevis Disaster Management Committee as a comprehensive strategy of what ought to happen in terms of disaster response in the case of a catastrophic event.
Premier Amory, who addressed the Committee—which comprises the heads of various NIA Ministries and agencies—at its first meeting for the year on August 15, 2013, spoke in his capacity as Chairman. He explained that although the island had been fortunate to have no major occurrence in terms of a disaster in 2013, it was no excuse for unpreparedness.
“It’s important, for us in Nevis generally, that we understand the roles which we are expected to play in this whole matter of responding if there is an event but also to ensure that we are prepared to make that response before the event.
“My simple task is really to encourage all of you who have been invited to be part of the Nevis Disaster Management Committee to see the role which you have been invited to perform as being very critical to the whole issue of what happens before an event, what happens after an event. During an event, I think all of us would be covering and seeking shelter or protecting ourselves. It would make no sense for us to be out in the event. I think this is something which has been driven into our heads over all the years, that we must make ourselves safe first before we can make anybody else safe or take care of anybody else,” he said.
Referring to the devastating effects of 1989’s Hurricane Hugo, the Chairman admonished the committee members to work together in their various roles to ensure that in the event of a similar disaster, they are ready and can be of service to those who may need it.
“To be unprepared is to not be ready to provide any type of assistance whatsoever. I think there’s nothing worse than if an event happens, as we’ve had in the past. I look back at 1989 when we were totally unprepared and then we were, after the event, really in a very serious bind as to how to respond. That was a major event. That was a catastrophic event as far as I could recall,” he said.
The Premier also noted that since 1989, the island had made significant progress with regard to disaster management, due to the efforts of the Nevis Disaster Management Department.
“I think we’ve come a long way since that with the help of Mr. [Lester] Blackett and his team and before him, other members of the committee…I think we have, in place, a fairly comprehensive plan, a fairly comprehensive strategy of what ought to happen and also the guidebook, the rule book for each person who is part of this committee what is your role and how you should respond, should we have an event.
“We all have to work together in those roles to make sure if anything happens that we are ready and that we can…do the after-event clear up, response clear up, and make sure we are up and running as shortly after the event as possible,” Premier Amory said.