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ODPM MEDIA STATEMENT - The ODPM Clarifies Misperceptions.

ODPM MEDIA STATEMENT - The ODPM Clarifies Misperceptions.

 

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) notes recent comments by some persons on our Facebook page, regarding the perceived absence of the two (2) Jeep Wrangler vehicles during the recent flood events. The vehicles referred to were donations made to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago by the United States Government in November 2020, following a request from the ODPM. In the main, persons expressed the view that the vehicles were not used during the recent floods. Recognising the inaccuracy of these comments, we find it necessary to clarify any misperceptions persons may have about the use of these vehicles. Just as important, we find it worthwhile for us to take the opportunity to edify the public about how emergency/disaster response to hazards is conducted in Trinidad and Tobago. The National Response Framework (NRF) is the mechanism for this and the vehicles have been integrated into this system.

The NRF is a subset of the National Disaster Management System (NDMS). The NDMS takes a comprehensive approach to disaster management and it is aligned to the global blueprint for reducing and managing disaster risks i.e. the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. This approach employs the disaster management cycle, which includes prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction. Hence, the deployment of the vehicles during the recent floods would have been done in accordance with the NRF and by extension, they contributed to the realisation of the response component of the cycle. Like many other countries, Trinidad and Tobago utilises a three (3) layered approach to disaster and emergency response.

Similarly, all the State’s transportation assets, including the Jeep Wranglers, are integrated into this system.

The following explains in brief, the 3-layered National Response Framework (NRF):

● Level 1 – The disaster/emergency situation is restricted within a Municipal Corporation or within a limited geographical space of Tobago, and the capabilities of the local authorities, residents and businesses are sufficient to manage the event e.g. a flood. In such instances, the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government’s Disaster Management Unit (DMU) of the affected Corporation or the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) will employ their transportation assets and other capabilities. In the case of the DMU, the affected Corporation may request assistance from unaffected Corporations, thereby utilising an All of Corporation approach.

● Level 2 – The event is of a very serious nature or spans more than one Municipal Corporation/a wide geographical area of Tobago e.g. a category 3+ hurricane, and the capabilities of the local authorities are insufficient to resolve the issue effectively. Because of this situation or the possibility that the event, if unresolved could have national security implications, the matter is escalated to the ODPM of the Ministry of National Security, for its assistance. As the National Strategic Disaster Management Agency, this office will either use its own resources to assist the local authorities, approach other national agencies for assistance, and may even activate the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC). These consultations result in a joint, planned approach with the ODPM assisting the local authorities to coordinate the use of these additional, national level resources to resolve the situation.

● Level 3 – At this level, destruction may be widespread in both Trinidad and Tobago e.g. a large magnitude earthquake (7.8+) and national resources are stretched to their limit. In such a situation, the ODPM, through the Minister of National Security, would recommend to the National Security Council/Cabinet that the Government may wish to consider requesting assistance from our regional/international partners.

The recent flood event in Trinidad, when categorised using the NRF, is considered a Level 1 incident. Though it affected more than one Municipal Corporation, it was well within the DMUs capabilities and therefore it was not escalated to the ODPM for assistance. The affected DMUs used the 4x4 vehicles they possess, as well as additional Corporation assets where necessary. When more transportation assets were required, they relied on those from unaffected Corporations. Consequently, during the response phase of the operation, the DMUs, having had adequate resources at their disposal, did not request the Jeep Wrangler vehicles or any other vehicular support from the ODPM. However, it must be highlighted that requests for the vehicles came later, during the early recovery phase. This will be elaborated upon further.

Notwithstanding the fact that the DMUs initially did not request vehicular support from the ODPM, during the flood, our technical teams deployed into the Piarco-St Helena and Penal-Debe communities, using the Jeep Wrangler. There, the team monitored the flood levels, placing particular emphasis on the state of the roadways and river courses.

 

 Photo and Caption 1: ODPM’s Jeep Wrangler deployed in the Tunapuna/Piarco Region following recent flood events.

 

THE ODPM CLARIFIES MISPERCEPTIONS Having placed ‘eyes on the ground’, the teams were able to verify data that were being received from stream flow stations (river height monitors). This information was shared with various agencies including the DMUs, the Defence Force, the Meteorological Service (Met Service) and the Water Resource Agency (WRA). The team’s actions enabled the Met Service, in consultation with the WRA, to provide more accurate riverine flood alerts to the public. Simultaneously, the Public Information Education and Community Outreach Unit shared this and additional information with the media. Through this medium, the public learnt about impassable roads and this information was also shared via WhatsApp. In addition, with this updated information, the office was able to put other national agencies in readiness and commenced preparations to activate the NEOC, if it became necessary.

The ODPM understands that its title could give one the impression that it is responsible for all matters related to emergencies/disasters in Trinidad and Tobago. It also understands that persons are sometimes unaware, not for lack of communication (see references below), that the NDMS is a layered and scalable system, and that agencies have different roles and responsibilities. To assist such individuals in particular, last year the ODPM developed a video that graphically explained the system in 45 seconds. The video entitled “ODPM Trinidad and Tobago, Coordinating National Disasters”, aired for several weeks at prime time on the three (3) main television stations and remains available on our YouTube channel, Facebook and Instagram platforms (see references below). The advertisement highlights the NRF in action and the roles of different agencies in disaster response.

This video was part of our campaign to educate the public about the NRF and the Whole of Government approach to Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM). The ODPM also understands that in the absence of information, persons on occasions could misinterpret situations based on the limited information they possess. However, we hope that having taken the time to explain the NRF and how the framework was applied during the recent flood events, persons would be more informed and knowledgeable about how the system works. Similarly, we hope these individuals would understand the circumstances under which the Jeep Wranglers would be ‘on the front lines’. We end in the hope that this article was of benefit to you and that you would be willing to support community and national efforts to strengthen disaster readiness and resilience.

To learn more please visit the ODPM’s social media platforms and our website at www.odpm.gov.tt

 

Photo and Caption 2: ODPMs Mitigation Manager, Haley Anderson monitoring and conducting assessments of the flood levels,

along roadways and river courses along the Caroni River.

 

 

Photo and Caption 3: Ms Natalie Peters of the Tunapuna / Piarco Regional Corporation’s Disaster Management Unit

conducting field assessments with the support from the ODPM technical team in the Madras area.

 

TO VIEW THE FULL MEDIA STATEMENT PLEASE CLICK HERE

 

 

References: ODPM Trinidad and Tobago Coordinating National Disasters, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QTG9CNCf2I Facebook - odpmttofficial: How does the ODPM coordinate National Disasters? https://www.instagram.com/p/CGVjl1-HhSt/?utm_medium=share_sheet Instagram - ODPMTT: How does the ODPM coordinate National Disasters? https://www.facebook.com/172163049358/videos/800682697417423 The National Response to Disasters, Trinidad Express, 2019. December 26th 2019. The National Response to Disasters, Trinidad Newsday, 2019. 26th December 2019. Disaster Preparedness, Are we Ready? Trinidad Express, 29th July 2021.https://www.dropbox.com/s/uc6ptfd8157bz9r/MULTISTAKEHOLDER%20APPROACH_NEWS_PG23_3%20AUG%202021.jpg?dl=0 TT Not Disaster Ready, Multi-Stakeholder Approach Needed, Trinidad Newsday, 3rd August 2021. https://www.dropbox.com/s/sapobv3bklm6gg2/MULTISTAKEHOLDER%20APPROACH_NEWS_PG21_3%20AUG%202021.jpg?dl=0 Hence, while the ODPM often operates in the absence of television cameras, the Division will continue to use the Jeep Wranglers, whether for providing information on rising river courses or monitoring the Piparo Mud Volcano. While doing so, the vehicles will remain available to all response agencies, whether in Trinidad or Tobago. This was demonstrated recently when support was provided to the DMUs of the Port of Spain and the Tunapuna-Piarco Corporations, during the early recovery phase following the recent floods. Some of these photos were shared on our Facebook page. MEDIA STATEMENT

 

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