Flashback: Flooding in Arouca. (Image courtesy Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government)

Although T&T has been spared from most weather and environmental disasters, the head of the Office for Disaster Preparedness (ODPM) says citizens must be prepared for anything.

Speaking on CNC3’s the Morning Brew, ODPM’s chief executive office Major General (Ret’d) Rodney Smart said citizens need to understand that in a disaster, the first responders are often those who live in the community.

Smart spoke as the ODPM was observing the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDRR).

“Trinidad and Tobago hasn’t really received a disaster per say as compared to other countries but we have to prepare and we have to mitigate them. What today signifies is to bring a realisation to our population and one way is by communicating with the public, and understanding how as a national community, we need to reduce those risks,” Smart said.

He said the ODPM began partnering with public and private sector bodies earlier this year to begin preparations for the rainy season.

He called on citizens to do their part to ensure their homes and families were prepared for a disaster.

“We appeal to communities to clean your drains, we appeal to individuals to ensure they clean around their homes, their guttering to say to individuals as well, make sure you have a plan for your family, make sure you know your risk to your community, make sure that you get together with your neighbours so you can help each other because before any national agency can come to you, your first responders are your neighbours.”

He said the role of the ODPM is to coordinate relief and first responder agencies in the event of a disaster or a national emergency.

He said the organisation has been doing its part in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is provided for frontline and healthcare workers.