‘Take earthquakes seriously’ – outgoing disaster boss warns

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Outgoing Director of NODS, Philmore Mullin
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By Shermain Bique-Charles

[email protected]

The outgoing Director of the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) Philmore Mullin is leaving a few words for residents as he prepares to depart his post after 22 years.

“Take the shaking seriously,” he said.

Mullin was speaking about the recent spate of earthquakes felt in Antigua and Barbuda and the wider region.

He told Observer in an interview that complacency kills, and resident should not take earthquakes for granted, as they are often followed by tsunamis.

“The information is in the public domain and you are going to have people who take it seriously and those who don’t. Unfortunately, those who don’t are likely to become victims,” he said.

Although NODS has made great strides over the years where warnings and alerts are concerned, Mullin admitted that there are still some challenges faced by the office.

“We have work to do in terms of delineating, based on the science, those safe areas in keeping with international standards. This is a work in progress.

“We have completed a sizeable portion of that work already. We continue to work with our regional and international partners,” he explained.

Mullin said he is leaving the disaster management office after what he said are some major achievements.

“When I joined this office, disaster management certainly wasn’t what it was years ago. We have gone through several plans; we have developed a sound community disaster management programme. We can be proud of such a system,” he told Observer.

Strides aside, Mullin believes that there’s much work ahead for his successor.

“We still have work to do with various ministries and departments and I would like to see a little more ownership. The various ministries need to take more responsibility and ownership of disaster management,” he warned.

While Mullin will be vacating his position as director, he confirmed that his expertise will still be available to NODS.

“I will not be serving in the capacity as director but if asked to do specific disaster management things, I will be more than happy so to do,” he explained.

Sherrod James is expected to be appointed as Mullin’s replacement.

“Sherrod has been well prepared. He has to find his own feet. I wouldn’t want him to be like me; I want him to be his own person,” the outgoing director added.

Mullin was due to retire three years ago.

What should I do if there’s an earthquake?

Remember: Drop, cover, hold on.

  • Drop to the ground.
  • Cover. Get under your dining room table or desk. Cover your face and head with your arm and hold on.
  • Hold on. Stay inside and in place until shaking stops.
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