ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Deputy Director of The National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) Sherrod James is urging homeowners to have their properties inspected to determine whether they are constructed according to proper building codes set out by the Development Control Authority (DCA).
The official said this is important as the country heads into the June to November hurricane season, a period he said people seem to be taking for granted, given there has not been a recent major disaster.
“The building codes set out what type of building materials can be used, how they should be laid down from the foundation to the roof. If persons are adhering to the building codes they should be quite fine,” he said.
“If they are not sure, we advocate they go and speak to DCA and public works and have somebody come and look at the home.
“If you’re renting, you should be talking to your landlord or land lady to have them ensure that it is up to standard. The building code is there to protect you and you’re building to a standard that you should remain safe,” James told OBSERVER media yesterday.
The official said it appears many people continue to hold the view they should rely on shelters. However, he noted that shelters are a last resort.
“People should not be looking to go to the shelters as a first resort. The main goal is for persons to actually make their houses more resistant so that they can shelter in the comfort of their own homes with all the amenities,” he said.
“That’s the goal of comprehensive disaster management.”
James indicated there are no purpose-built shelters in Antigua & Barbuda hence, shelters are identified annually once they meet certain criteria outlined by building engineers.
He said the list of shelters is still under review and should be available for publication shortly.
NODS is the state’s coordinating secretariat for the national disaster management mechanism and it works along with the defence force, Central Board of Health, Public Works Department, Police, Fire Department and other groups.