The St. James Central District Emergency Organisation is about to undertake a massive profile and risk assessment study of a large segment of the area it covers from Batts Rock to Paynes Bay.

And chairman Selwyn Brooks says they are more than open should any other DEOs wish to use the two studies of Redman’s Village and Holetown/Sunset Crest that they have already undertaken, as models for similar projects in their own communities. The latter study, he noted, was about 80 per cent completed, with them only now having to introduce a public awareness/education component to have that completed.

Brooks said what his DEO had been able to do was tap into resources at their disposal – the expertise of the respective members and other related agencies like the Drainage Unit and Coastal Zone Management Unit.

The study of Holetown/Sunset Crest, had encompassed about 342 properties, examining issues of flooding, emergency evacuation, access and education/awareness of residents and businesses.

Coming out of that study, he said they were now able to map the wells in the area and were hoping that a database could be set up to document the history of complaints with each of the wells. This, he said, he believed could help with proper maintenance as well as with the quick identification of problem areas in times of flooding, hence emergency planning.

Meanwhile, the Redman’s Village study had also given valuable information on future emergency planning, approaches that other DEOs could use as a map for studies of heir own areas.

“What has this got to do with disaster management? That is the question that we are now trying to move people away from thinking just about hurricanes. If the wells are not properly cleaned, you can bet come hurricane season we will have flooding problems. So we talk with the residents to let them know it is not just the Drainage Unit responsibility alone to make sure the wells [are functioning].”

The two studies had given them an idea of what they needed to do to get more disaster/emergency ready, and the new study, Brooks said, would give them an even greater assessment of St. James Central.

“The study we are going to be doing this year is from Batts Rock to Paynes Bay. We started with Redman’s Village which was a smaller space and then Sunset Crest which was also a small area because the houses are the same, the roads too, but this one now is going to be a much bigger project because we have no map of the road system.

“There are typographical problems; the shelf, which is the 80-foot bar from the coastline and we have West Terrace, so when you have a lot of rain in West Terrace it does not take long for it to get down to Fitt’s Village and Paynes Bay…”

Given that CZMU was looking at tsunami preparedness, he said they were also hoping to form a link to examine in an informal way, the sea conditions over time and get residents involved in the monitoring and planning of evacuation routes.

This was all information he believed others could use and threw the possibility out for others to feel free to contact that DEO for information on planning similar studies.

“Where we have gone and are going, no other DEO has done this yet and it is not that we are boasting but I would be glad if all DEOs could be like this. They don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Come see what we have done, see if anything we have done can help you with what you are doing to help improve your communities and join with us. At the end of it, it is Barbadians you are serving,” stated Brooks.

(Published in Barbados Today)