Local government minister to strengthen earthquake preparedness

Minister of local government, Desmond Mckenzie

The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development will be ramping up earthquake preparedness activities across the island in collaboration with various stakeholders.

The move is in the wake of the 7.7 magnitude earthquake that rocked the island on January 28, which also triggered a series of aftershocks.  

Minister McKenzie said that town hall meetings, which are being staged by the Ministry across the island, will be used to raise earthquake awareness among citizens.

“We’re going into [Black River] St. Elizabeth on February 13 for another town hall and we’re going to Lucea, the following week, on the 19th. We will be going across the entire length and breadth of Jamaica into the town centres, into communities and into the schools,” he said.

“We are going to be using the councillors, the members of Parliament, the churches, all the interests groups to assist, because this is not something that the Government alone can undertake. This needs the total participation of every man and woman of this country,” he added.  

He said in the aftermath of the earthquake, which was felt mainly in western Jamaica, he ordered the activation of the disaster committees in the region as a precautionary measure.

He noted that the Jamaica Fire Brigade, which is the first responder in the event of a disaster, will be provided with additional fire trucks and protective gears and tools.

Meanwhile, the Minister is imploring Jamaicans to take the necessary precautions to ensure safety in the event of natural disasters.

He noted that while there were reports of structural damage in St. Catherine, St. James, St. Elizabeth and Westmoreland, in the wake of the January 28 tremor, the greatest impact was on the psychological well-being of citizens.

“The day will go down in history as perhaps one of the most traumatic in this country’s history. We have taken too many things for granted in this country and Tuesday (January 28) was definitely an eye-opener,” Mr. McKenzie said.

“This is the worst earthquake we have had since 1993, and we cannot measure the psychological damage that has been created on the country,” he added.