Residents told local disaster agencies provide reliable information

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Regional expert on coastal hazards, Professor Roy Watlington has warned residents that it’s dangerous to take information about disasters and hazards that affect their country, from sources other than local agencies.
Antiguans and Barbudans are among Caribbean nationals who habitually turn to the United States Geological Survey and the US-based National Hurricane Centre, among other internet sites, for what they say is more reliable and up-to-date data.
“The all clear will come from NODS and no exterior agency should be listened to. Because the local authorities are the ones who know that it is safe to go out,” he advised.
Watlington was speaking at the Jolly Beach Resort & Spa during a one-day disaster management workshop that focused on building community resilience through strategic private-public partnerships.
He also advised regional countries to work together to ensure that the necessary expertise is available locally.
 “One of the things that was really beneficial to Montserrat when its volcano came to life was the existence of the Seismic Research Unit. They did not have to wait for the British Geological Survey. But you can’t do that if you don’t have expertise,” the professor posited.
The President of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Dr Errol Samuel said disaster management should be seen as a strategy to “protect” the growth of communities and countries.
“This calls for the private sector and the government to interact more closely to ensure appropriate risk reduction strategies,” he added.
According to Dr Samuel, the private sector has been under-tapped in providing skilled services in the form of technical personnel, in-kind donations of goods or services as well as emergency response.
The Deputy Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, Elizabeth Riley also addressed the participants.
She said the region needs to build its evidence base by compiling good-practice stories.
Riley also called for “coordinated advocacy to support community resilience as well as more public-private sector partnerships”.

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