February 8, 20191830Views

Friday, 9 February 2019 – The After Action Report on the performance of the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) in response to the impact from hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017 is ready for review by Cabinet.

The report includes data from a number of evaluations conducted by external entities and summarizes key findings. It also provides a detailed analysis of what actions were taken, why the actions were taken and how future responses could be improved.

Director, Department of Disaster Management Ms. Sharleen DaBreo MBE explained that this type of review is in keeping with international best practices and is executed following any major disaster.

She said, “It provides an opportunity for us to reflect on what we did in response to the events of 2017 and to identify what went well and what we can do better the next time around to ensure there is a key focus on building a more resilient territory that is driven by effective risk management.”

Ms. DaBreo further explained that the findings in the report were compiled based on a number of external evaluations that took place following the impacts.

She said, “the performance of the NEOC was evaluated by a number of external entities including the United States of America based Emergency Management Accreditation Programme (EMAP).  The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) also examined the response from the health sector and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) in conjunction with the University of the West Indies (UWI) performed a rapid review of the Regional Response Mechanism and how it was able to support the operations that took place within the Territory.”

Ms DaBreo added, “All of these after action reviews took place over a period of one year.  We also included findings from our own local reviews and debriefing sessions held with various public and private sector entities.”

Director of Projects in the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Drexel Glasgow noted that the conduct of the after review and the submission of the report is a requirement of the Caribbean Development Bank Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Loan signed with the Government in December 2018.

Dr. Glasgow said, “one of the conditions of the loan is to provide, one year after signing the agreement, a report that outlines the specific measures that will be taken by the Government to increase resiliency and how the loan will support such efforts.  I am pleased that the report has been prepared and we are in a position to meet our obligation.”

The findings and recommendations have already been incorporated into the Territory’s sector level strategies, plans and programmes including the 2019-2015 Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategic Framework.  The Virgin Islands Emergency Management Accreditation is expected to be renewed in 2020 and all efforts will be made to address the findings before this time.

The Department of Disaster Management will monitor the implementation and achievements and continue to provide reports to Cabinet.  It is expected that the Cabinet approved report will be published during the first quarter of the year.