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File photo of Hurricane Irma in 2017, which cause catastrophic damage across the Caribbean. (NOAA Photo)

DMCA Holds Tabletop Hurricane Exercise

Montserrat’s readiness to respond to a tropical storm or hurricane impacting the island was tested on Monday with a tabletop exercise initiated by the Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA).

According to a release from the DMCA, the exercise, held as part of their 2018 National Hurricane Conference, which brought together key personnel from the public sector, statutory organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to assess their individual plans to respond to a tropical cyclone event.

There were brief remarks by His Excellency, Governor Andrew Pearce and both the Interim-Director and Operations and Logistics Officer at the Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA) Major Alvin Ryan and Kelvin White respectively. Information and Outreach Officer at the DMCA Shirlian Queeley gave a presentation on the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast.

“The exercise led participants through a simulated hurricane scenario and prompted them to examine their plan of action and procedures at various phases of the event and how it ties into the Montserrat National Hurricane Plan,” the release stated.

“The goals of the exercise were to critically assess the response capability and coordination of the various organizations and agencies involved using their internal plans and resources; and to help them identify improvements that could make the difference in saving lives and to ensure business continuity at the private, public and national levels.”

Interim director of the DMCA Alvin Ryan said some resilience-based projects were identified which need to be resolved. These projects, he added, needed funding to be rectified. Coming out of this year’s Hurricane conference, some priority actions were highlighted that should be addressed immediately to ensure Montserrat is in a maximum state of readiness.

The conference was attended by the Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo, Government Ministers and senior officials from the Montserrat Customs and Revenue Services (MCRS), the Royal Montserrat Police Service (RMPS), Her Majesty’s Prison, Montserrat Port Authority, Ministry of Communication, Works and Labour (MCWL), Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, Housing, Lands and Environment (MATHLE), the Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MoFEM), Montserrat Utilities Limited (MUL), the Department of Information Technology and E-Government Services (DITES), the Royal Montserrat Defence Force (RMDF) and the Montserrat Branch of the British Red Cross.

The 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season is forecast to be a near – or above-normal above season, with forecasts pointing to around 10-16 named storms and at least 5-9 hurricanes.

DMCA is reminding residents and visitors that it only takes one storm to wreak havoc and urges everyone to “Plan and Take Action, Always Prepare for the Unexpected.”