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Portsmouth Community Alerts Project Starts Off with a BANG!

The Community Alerts Project (CAP) is well on its way in the town of Portsmouth. The initial response of the Schools, Business and Community leaders have been resounding which suggests that the people of Portsmouth are in support of the initiative.

The Outreach and Education component of the project was launched on September 1, 2014 and is scheduled to run until December 31 of this year. The CAP is a pilot project funded by DIPECHO and implemented by the UNDP in Barbados and the OECS, in collaboration with the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) on Dominica. The project is also being implemented simultaneously on St. Vincent and Grenada, and aims to improve community alerting and awareness on natural hazards, and the associated preparation and response protocol. This project will ultimately lead to the formation of the Dominica Alert System (DAS), and it is anticipated that the experiences and Best Practices garnered in Portsmouth will be replicated in other coastal communities on Dominica.

To date the Project Contractors Clement Richards and Wayne Abraham have visited most of the schools in Portsmouth where the reaction and response from Principals and staff can only be described as very positive. Teachers and Principals of the St. John Primary, the Roosevelt Douglas Primary, the St. John’s Academy, the Portsmouth Secondary and Seventh Day Adventist Secondary Schools were very receptive to the program, and gave their wholehearted endorsement and support.

The students of the St. Johns’ Primary showed keen interest in a presentation of the project made to a special School Assembly by Mr. Steve Joseph from the Office of Disaster Management (ODM). The students response to the information disseminated resulted in the entire group volunteering to join a special after-school program in disaster management with emphasis on the CAP project.

The Private Sector at Portsmouth has also embraced the CAP program in a big way. Meeting and education sessions have been held with the Management and Staff of First Domestic Insurance Company, the Portsmouth Cooperative Credit Union, Casey Inn, the National Bank of Dominica (Portsmouth Branch), and the Police and Fire Departments. Feedback from the Private Sector representatives suggests keen interest in the roll out of the projects and its ultimate goals and objectives.

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The efforts in Portsmouth thus far have resulted in a greater appreciation for disaster risk management in the area, to the extent that a number of individuals and institutions have committed to participating in the activities of the CAP as well as revamping the Portsmouth Disaster Management Committee.

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One of the possible outcomes of the project identified is the revival of the long lost “Lavolin” Church Bell chimes that can be incorporated as a grassroots Emergency Alert mechanism. This results from discussions with Bell Ringer Mr. Augustus Philbert and his Assistant and will be pursued further with the Parish Priest and the community.

Future plans for the project include Video Sessions and Block Meetings to be held October and December in location determined by the community to include Burrow’s Square, Glanvillia, Picard, and Lagon in targeted to “man in the street”. Other major activities planned are Workshops for Teachers and Students, a community Consultation and Disaster Simulation exercise based on a Tsunami threat.

The Project Management Team commends the people of Portsmouth and environs for their very positive response and commitment to the Portsmouth Community Alert Project (CAP), and the ODM urges continued participation and involvement as the project progresses.

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