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Ministry of Disaster Preparedness official touts ‘absolute need’ to be prepared for hurricane season

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, Mr. Carl F. Smith, called on members of the public to be aware of the “absolute need” to be prepared for the 2021 Hurricane Season, adding that involvement of the community in disaster preparedness and response is crucial.

Mr. Smith said the need to prepare for disasters such as hurricanes and emergencies “is real.” He was addressing a press briefing held Tuesday (July 20) at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Gladstone Road to announce the furthering of the partnership between the National Emergency Management Agency and Cable Bahamas Group of Companies, and the hurricane preparedness of both groupings.

He said the briefing also provided disaster management officials with the opportunity to remind the public of the absolute need to be prepared for the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which has been forecasted to be a very active one. Mr. Smith also assured members of the public that government agencies and their partners in disaster management have done, and continue to do, all that is possible within their means to prepare for the hurricane season.

Mr. Smith said the Press briefing also provided the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, the National Emergency Management Agency and the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) with the opportunity to: “celebrate the partnership we have had with Cable Bahamas and to thank Cable Bahamas for their service to The Bahamas in the area of disaster management.”

“Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety and losses that accompany disasters,” Mr. Smith said. “Communities, families and individuals should know where to seek shelter during a powerful storm and what to do in the event of a fire, etcetera. They should be ready to evacuate their homes and take refuge in public shelters and know how to care for their basic medical needs. Persons can also reduce the impact of disasters (flood proofing, elevating a home) and sometimes avoid the danger completely.”

Mr. Smith said disasters disrupt lives, and that each disaster has lasting effects, both to people and property.

“If a disaster occurs in the community, government and disaster-relief organizations will try their best to assist the community. However, individuals need to be ready as well. Local responders may not be able to reach the community immediately, or they may need to focus their efforts elsewhere. Individuals should know how to respond to any disaster that could occur in their area. Individuals should also be ready to be self-sufficient for at least three days. This may mean providing their own shelter, first aid, food, water and sanitation,” Mr. Smith added.

The Senior Government official also addressed the area of “correct and efficient communication,” adding that correct and efficient communication can prevent occurrence of a disaster or reduce its impact, reduce vital delays in the aftermath, and generally decide the success of disaster management efforts.

“In the aftermath of a disaster, time counts and efficient communication at all levels decides the success of all efforts,” Mr. Smith said. “Unless we have communication at its best in all of the required forms, we will not be in a position to deal with all phases of disaster management to our entire satisfaction. There are two distinct facets of communication. One is the physical where we use a variety of means via ever progressing technology. That has certainly been the case with Cable Bahamas with whom the National Emergency Management Agency has had a wonderful working relationship for the benefit of The Bahamas as a whole. There is no lacking of any type of high-tech means to communicate. Media (both print and electronic) also serve as credible and influential agents of communication.

“The other aspect of communication, which is equally important, is the conceptual one,” Mr. Smith continued, “it is necessary to ensure that the recipient of communication understands the contents of the message being conveyed and that he/she responds to it in the desired manner. This requires knowledge, clarity and conciseness. This is particularly important today where ‘fake news’, if not guarded against, can take root and get out of control to the detriment of us all.”

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