The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) would like to take this time to explain exactly what happens in our office from the moment we are notified of an approaching or ongoing hazard until the moment the danger has passed, the hazard is contained, or the hazard is no longer a threat. While hurricanes aren’t the only hazards that impact The Bahamas, they are the most common and frequent hazards that we experience.
Because of that, we will use a hurricane as an example for what happens in NEMA before, during and after a disaster. When a hurricane is heading towards The Bahamas, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) executes a five (5) phase plan to facilitate immediate disaster response and recovery efforts. This means that NEMA leaps into action the moment that the MET Office determines that a hurricane is headed our way!
First, The Bahamas Meteorological Department (MET Office) contacts The Director of NEMA to issue a Hurricane Alert. The Director of NEMA, as the National Disaster Coordinator then issues the order to partially activate the National Emergency Operating Centre (NEOC)* and advises the Permanent Secretary for the Office of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, the Secretary to the Cabinet and the Prime Minister of the inclement weather as well as NEMA’s state of readiness.
During this phase, the Prime Minister is advised on the threat level of the approaching hurricane and whether evacuation is recommended in the impacted area. The Prime Minister then addresses the public.
During this phase, the MET Office advises the Director of NEMA on the imminence of the hurricane. The NEOC is then fully activated, the Prime Minister is once again appraised of the situation, the media is informed, the public is advised, and our regional and international partners are then advised on the situation.
During this phase, disaster response has already been in play and all lifesaving efforts have been made. The MET Office issues the “All Clear”, the media is advised, the Prime Minister is advised, the NEOC is then deactivated and regional and international partners informed.
During the final phase of NEMA’s disaster response and recovery mandate, the country enters phase two of the reconstruction phase, which focuses on long term projects and rebuilding efforts. At this point, NEMA hands over to the Disaster Reconstruction Authority, once the Prime Minister has declared the impacted area a “Disaster Zone.”
We know that Disaster Management can seem complex or confusing sometimes and we hope that this explanation helps you to better understand how we serve you.