Antigua to host resilience workshop this week


Resilience planning workshops for key stakeholders in three Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) member countries will get underway next week as the 2018 hurricane season begins.

The three Community-Ports Resiliency Program (C-PReP) workshops will be held in Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia and Dominica. Executed by the Americas Relief Team (ART), the workshops are sponsored by the US Caribbean Strong Relief Fund at the Miami Foundation; Miami International Airport/Miami Dade County; FEDEX and American Airlines.

“C-PReP workshops are designed to ensure standardized mechanisms, drills and best practices are in place to mitigate the worst possible effects of a disaster on a country and to streamline efficient and effective responses to disasters,” said Wesley Kirton, Director of CARICOM Outreach at Outreach Aid to the Americas (OAA), of which ART is one of its initiatives.

These community planning workshops place particular emphasis on airport and seaport resilience planning since damaged ports have a tremendously deleterious impact on local communities, often crippling efforts to adequately respond to crises arising out of disasters.

“Often, as we experienced with the earthquake in Haiti, damage to airports and the main seaport severely impeded efforts to move in critical supplies and needed rescue equipment. Additionally, damaged ports have a negative impact on a country’s economy especially in our island nations where tourism is a major contributor to the national economy and where jobs are lost and trade halted. So these C-PReP workshops are designed to ensure optimum interoperability among port personnel and other agencies,” Kirton pointed out.

Personnel from government ministries and agencies including the health, transport and law enforcement sectors as well as from non-government organizations including the local Red Cross will be among participants in the workshops.

The first workshop will be held in Antigua and Barbuda on May 31 and June 1, with an on-site visit to Barbuda on June 2. St. Lucia will host its workshop on June 4 and 5 and Dominica on June 7 and 8.

Among the presenters at the workshops will be Nelson Mejias, airport manager Miami/Opa Locka executive airports; Capt. Ricardo Garcia, program manager, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) at USAID; Mrs. Suzanne Williamson, director, tower operations at American Airlines, Ms. Maricarmen Estrada, program director at Outreach Aid to the Americas (OAA) and Dr. Teo Babun, president and chief executive officer, OAA/ART.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Aviation Sir Robin Yearwood will open the workshop on Thursday, May 31 following welcome remarks by Mr. Edson Joseph, permanent secretary, Ministry of Public Utilities, Civil Aviation, Transportation and Energy who is also the country’s lead participant in the workshop.

Similar workshops have been held previously in Jamaica, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Miami and most recently last September in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

It is expected that two additional workshops will be held later this year in CARICOM member countries.

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