June 11, 20101289Views

Friday, June 11  His Excellency the Governor Mr. David Pearey yesterday chaired his final meeting in his capacity as chairman of the National Disaster Management Council (NDMC) at Maria’s By the Sea Hotel.

Speaking at the opening, the Governor reflected on the major achievements  since his first meeting as chairman in 2006.  These included the revision of several national plans, the restructuring of the NDMC, an increased level of awareness about natural hazards within the community, the review of critical infrastructure protection mechanisms and the execution of a tsunami and earthquake exercise, among other issues. 

Acting Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Dancia Penn, OBE, QC, speaking in her capacity as the acting deputy chairman of the NDMC, said, “We must have systems and measures in place to ensure continuity of government in the event of any kind of disaster, especially considering the extent of the disaster unfolding in the Gulf.” 

Honourable Penn acknowledged the work of DDM by saying, “I would also like to pay tribute to the work that the Department of Disaster Management does. We receive very regularly in Cabinet, and also in the National Security Council, reports and updates from DDM and I would like to place on record our recognition of the fine work of that Department.”

 Thursday’s annual meeting was held to review the 2009 action points and to receive reports from the various sub-committees on the Territory’s level of preparedness.  Of particular interest to the NDMC was the “Report on the State of Preparedness of the Territory for the 2010 Hurricane Season” the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) compiled inclusive of results of an online audit involving about 73 government departments, agencies and critical organisations within the private sector.  The report revealed that while the Territory is adequately prepared, there is still a need to implement preparedness measures, especially in light of predictions for a very active season. 

The highlight of the meeting was the reports from the various sub-committees responsible for health disaster management; emergency planning; welfare and relief distribution; public information and awareness; mitigation; transport and infrastructure and emergency fund distribution. 

Mr. John Wilson, an UNDP consultant, made a special presentation on his role to assess the Territory’s Disaster Management Programme aimed at establishing benchmarks and supporting the implementation of the 4.9 million euro R3I Project. This will provide tools and best practices to support Comprehensive Disaster Management.  Mr. Wilson has been in the Territory since 6 June and has been meeting with government officials and private sector agencies to obtain the required information.

In his closing remarks, the Governor used the example of the current oil spill in the Gulf to illustrate the importance of assessing levels of readiness and ensuring that a high state of preparedness is maintained in the Territory at all times. A report on Thursday’s meeting will be submitted to Cabinet in the coming weeks.

The NDMC is established by the Disaster Management Act 2003. Its role is to review the national strategy for, and the state of, disaster management in the Territory and make recommendations to government. The Governor is the chairman and the Premier is the deputy chairman of the NDMC.  The Premier has ultimate responsibility for the area of disaster recovery (comprised of rehabilitation and reconstruction) while the governor’s functions cover the areas of preparedness, mitigation, and response.