The United States Embassy recently donated $30,000 USD worth of hurricane shelter equipment to Saint Lucia’s National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) to aid in preparation efforts for future hurricane seasons.
“This U.S. funded project will support the local purchase of 230 foam covered mattresses that will be pre-positioned at the various community satellite warehouses throughout Saint Lucia,” said Dorine Gustave, director of Saint Lucia’s NEMO. “The mattresses will be used primarily to equip emergency shelters within vulnerable communities, to ensure that persons evacuated are adequately accommodated.”
The donation of the mattresses, made possible through U.S. Southern Command’s Humanitarian Assistance Program, are intended to help equip NEMO to provide shelter to vulnerable populations throughout St. Lucia, in the event of a hurricane, while also ensuring sheltering procedures are in compliance with COVID-19 physical distancing protocols.
“Under the new Ministry of Health COVID-19 Shelter Management Protocols, to enforce social distancing, a number of new shelters have been identified that must be retrofitted with bedding resources to be fully functional,” said Gustave. “This initiative will strengthen the disaster response capacity of district disaster committees to mobilize within the communities by stockpiling bedding resources to be used at the emergency shelters and to be also distributed to support families in rebuilding homes damaged or destroyed by a disaster event.”
The humanitarian donation is one of many U.S.-funded initiatives designed to increase the public security, well-being and prosperity of St. Lucians and other Eastern Caribbean partners. During 2019, the U.S. Navy deployed its hospital ship, the U.S.N.S. Comfort, to St. Lucia where it provided free medical, optometry and dental services to over 4,900 St. Lucians.
“Disaster preparedness and response is always a challenge, with the added complication of a COVID-19 environment, preparation is even more vital,” said U.S. Air Force Major, Shane Moran, Deputy Security Cooperation Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Barbados. “This humanitarian donation reflects the United States’ continued commitment to the Eastern Caribbean during these challenging times.”