A study carried out by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) in 2001 on the status of Disaster preparedness revealed that floods were the most common and highly likely disaster. The report revealed that 90 percent of the participating states in the Caribbean experienced persistent floods in a five year span before the installation of the Caribbean Disaster Management Project (CADM). By that year, only 4 of the 16 participating states had any reasonable plans in place to cub the persistent disaster.
The Pan-Caribbean Disaster preparedness Project (PCDPP) existed between 1981 and 1991 and was the first establishment of disaster management program. It was, however, ineffective in its tasks as it lacked funding. The United Nations proclamation of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (1990-2000) made Caribbean governments more aggressive in the last decade of the 20th Century. The PCDPP successfully recorded commendable accomplishments. For instance, it created a central government disaster management in most of the countries until the establishment of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) in 1991.
Tropical Storm Erika
Tropical Storm Erika caused floods of a magnitude that the emergency did not anticipate. The team found that even with international help, there were barely enough resources to support the rescue operations. With limited resources, the teams took longer hours on the site and use desperate means to salvage the victims of the floods erupting from the Storm. The underestimation of the range of magnitude or size of the Storm caused a high cost onto the local community as many families lost their loved ones due to the long time taken to begin the rescue operation. There was no time to evacuate people to higher grounds as a preventive measure too. Without effective prior communication, the residence succumbed due to ignorance of the impending floods. The programs leading in the planning and execution of emergency services in the region since the last decade of the 20th century all underestimated the magnitude of Erika leading to unexpected damage and unnecessary loss of lives and property.
According the UNDP report, The UNDP-funded Disaster Emergency Response and Management Systems Project (DERMS) emerged within the decade of International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction ending in 2000. Others include the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) the European Union (EU), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Organization of American States (OAS) (Wayne, 2012).
The Comprehensive Approach to Disaster Management (CDM) succeeded the Disaster Emergency Response and Management Systems Project (DERMS) that was financed by the United Nations Development Program and has served effectively to date with goals to enlighten all stake-holders in issues concerning disasters and management with the aim of preventing more occurrences and loss of lives and property.
The agencies (especially the Comprehensive Approach to Disaster Management) are focused on enhancing community disaster management planning via establishing community disaster plans. It facilitates the training of the public in disaster management planning. This education prepares the community members to learn to deal with the devastation and recover quickly from the disaster as well as deal with instant responses to minimize the damage as much as possible.
CDM also educates policy-makers on the issues involved in the strategies of the agency, making presentations to dignitaries and heads of States to enlighten them on the best possible solutions and providing information on the website for everyone to learn.
Every year, Barbados (like the rest of the Caribbean countries) faces threats by catastrophic damage to property and significant death toll due to natural disasters. Since the early 1970s, the rate of occurrence of the disasters has increased and persisted in Barbados. Among the disasters are; frequent tidal waves Tropical storms, hurricanes, heavy rains and earthquakes. This problem has turned the country from an agriculturally productive country to a tourism-dependent economy as the region increasingly becomes vulnerable to danger of occurrences of both man-made and natural disasters. Man-made issues include oil and chemical spills in the ocean due to increased traffic of both cargo and passenger vessels at the ports.
According to UN reports (1990-2000), Disasters have cost the country billions of dollars in damage consequently harming the economic health and development in the region. The social structure and progress is affected by the devastation of human suffering that also takes long to recover. Naturally, the poor are most affected and take a long period after the drought to recover to normalcy. Of the 16 countries, Barbados is the sixth most prone to disaster as it records the 6th highest level of occurrences after Jamaica, Montserrat, Antigua, Dominican Republic and St. Lucia.
The Environmental Management and Land Use Planning for Sustainable Development (EMLUP) Project was the initial plan. It produced; a proposed Environmental Management Act and an Environmental and Natural Resources Management Plan. Moreover, it proceeded to enact the Proposed Institutional Framework for Environmental Management and created the National Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Guidelines and Procedures. Further, the EMLUP revised the National Physical Development Plan.
The earliest regional establishment of a national disaster awareness and management agency is the Pan-Caribbean Disaster preparedness Project (PCDPP) between 1981 and 1991. It is, however, after the United Nations proclamation of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (1990-2000) that the Caribbean governments became aggressive. The PCDPP recorded commendable accomplishments such as creating a central government disaster management in most of the countries until the establishment of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) in 1991 (Fleming and Smith (2009).
Before the United Nations proclamation of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (1990-2000), the efforts were not only up to the globally accepted standards but also futile and hopeless. With a depreciating economy, response services were inadequate and inefficient to help salvage property and prevent more loss of lives.
Contingency planning involves a strategy than monitors and analyzes specific potential threats and emerging events in a region that may be destructive to the environment and society in general in any possible way. It establishes policies and strategies (in advance) to ensure timely and efficient solutions to the events. The timely responses enable organized and well-coordinated solutions with the available resources ready, updated information and effective operational arrangements (Collymore and Thomas, 2014).
With a timely response, the emergency teams would have the appropriate length of time to assemble their resources in accordance to the magnitude of the Storm that caused the flood. These groups have enough resources to undertake the emergency plan in time. Coordination among them to ensure the proper utility of these resources such as man-power (both skilled and amateurs) is vital to efficient future emergency operations in the Caribbean.