Press Release:– Saint Lucia’s National Shutdown Policy was last reviewed in 2011. The country is currently in the process of reviewing that policy document with the help of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
The National Shutdown Policy speaks to the systematic closure of a country before the impact of a known hazard and the reactivation of that country after the all clear has been given.
The acting Director of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), Dorine Gustave, said although the policy is broad-based in nature there are some gaps which were highlighted in 2018 during the passage of tropical storm Kirk.
She added that with the 2019 hurricane season fast approaching, it is imperative that Saint Lucia strengthen those gaps.
“One of these areas that needs strengthening is the time frame in which the essential business sector should close to allow employees to get home, facilitated by the public transport system that should be operational as well. The timeline should allow these public transport operators to get home safely, bearing in mind efficient traffic management in and out of major towns and cities like Castries and Gros Islet,” she explained.
Another area which is expected to receive much attention is that of the sensitization of the public to the provisions of the reviewed National Shutdown Policy, so that members of the public can make informed decisions in a timely manner.
The Lead Consultant, Roberto Gonzalez, said periodic reviews are vital.
“In the field of disaster management we often work on anticipating certain things to happen. Experiences sometimes teach us that our expectations were wrong. Therefore, we have to continuously review what we have done under a certain event to ensure that when there is a similar event, or one of a stronger or lower threat, that we can better adapt and ensure that lives are not lost.”
NEMO’s Programme Officer, Andrew George, said without the systematic closure of the country in times of disaster there can be chaos. The aim, he said, is to protect lives as much as possible.