Portsmouth CAP Starts Off With a Bang!
The Community Alerts Project (CAP) is well on its way in the town of Portsmouth. The resounding initial response of the schools, business and community leaders suggests that the people of Portsmouth are supportive of this initiative.
The outreach and education component of the project was launched on September 1, 2014 and is scheduled to run until December 31, 2014. This pilot project is funded by DIPECHO and implemented by the UNDP Barbados and the OECS, in collaboration with the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) in Dominica. The project is also being implemented simultaneously in St. Vincent and Grenada. The project aims to improve community alerting and awareness on natural hazards, and the associated preparation and response protocols. This project will ultimately lead to the formation of the Dominica Alert System (DAS). It is anticipated that the experiences and best practices garnered in Portsmouth will be replicated in other coastal communities in Dominica.
To date, the project contractors Clement Richards and Wayne Abraham visited most of the schools in Portsmouth where the reaction and response from principals and staff can only be described as very positive. Teachers and principals of the St. John’s Catholic School, the Roosevelt Douglas Primary, the St. John’s Academy, the Portsmouth Secondary and Seventh Day Adventist Secondary schools were very receptive to the program, and gave their wholehearted endorsement and support.
The students of the St. John’s Catholic School showed keen interest in a presentation of the project made to a special school assembly by Mr. Steve Joseph from the ODM. The students’ response to the information disseminated resulted in the entire group volunteering to join a special after-school program in disaster management with emphasis on the CAP project.
The private sector at Portsmouth also embraced the CAP program in a big way. Meeting and education sessions were held with the management and staff of First Domestic Insurance Company, the Portsmouth Cooperative Credit Union, Casey Inn, the National Bank of Dominica (Portsmouth Branch), and the Police and Fire Departments. Feedback from the private sector representatives suggests keen interest in the roll out of the project and its ultimate goals and objectives.
The efforts in Portsmouth thus far resulted in a greater appreciation for disaster risk management in the area. For example, a number of individuals and institutions are now committed to participating in the activities of the CAP, as well as revamping the Portsmouth Disaster Management Committee.
The Staff at NBD Portsmouth Branch were very receptive As were Portsmouth Police Officers
One of the possible outcomes of the project identified is the revival of the long lost “Lavolin” church bell chimes, which will be incorporated as part of a grassroots emergency alert mechanism. This results from discussions with Bell Ringer Mr. Augustus Philbert and his assistant, with details to be pursued further with the parish priest and the community.
Future plans for the project include video sessions and block meetings. They will be held in October and December at Burrow’s Square, Glanvillia, Picard, and Lagoon and specifically targeted to the “man in the street”. Other major activities planned are workshops for teachers and students, a community consultation, and disaster simulation exercise based on a Tsunami threat.
The project management team commends the people of Portsmouth and environs for their very positive response and commitment to the Portsmouth Community Alert Project (CAP). The ODM is proud of Portsmouth and urges continued participation and involvement as the project progresses.