Home News Local news Public, Private Sector Officials Brainstorm About Disaster Recovery Plans

Public, Private Sector Officials Brainstorm About Disaster Recovery Plans


Sept. 9, 2005 – "This enables private entities to join with the government so what happened on the Gulf Coast with Hurricane Katrina won't happen here," Sen. Pedro "Pete" Encarnacion said about the St. Croix Disaster Recovery Workshop held at the Henry Rohlsen Airport Friday.
The workshop was sponsored by Tropical Shipping and attended by heads of emergency units as well as private businesses such as V.I. Rum, Hovensa, and Plaza Extra.
Brian Modesty, of Tropical Shipping, said his company has been getting more and more involved in such seminars in recent years. He said, after the morning-long discussion, "Our company is dependent on healthy island economies. These economies can be deeply impacted by natural disasters, especially hurricanes."
Tropical Shipping employs about 35 workers each on St. Croix and St. Thomas. The company's territory ranges south to Grenada and north to St. John, New Brunswick and employees number more than 1,000 . Its hub is in Florida.
Jennifer Nugent-Hill, the company's vice president of government and public affairs, monitored Friday's program.
She emphasized that the discussion was on "What is critically important to St. Croix, this unique community."
She said the purpose of the workshop was to "trigger these questions about what we have not thought about before."
Several of the participants said the key to any disaster plan being successful was in that it was clearly communicated to the public.
Elroy Harrison, St. Croix deputy director of the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, said, "We can have workshops all year long. If you don't educate the public, you have done nothing."
Donald C. Nelthropp, president of V.I. Rum Industries Ltd., said an effort should be made to "harden" cell phone communication. He said that if people can freely communicate during a storm it would eliminate traffic on the roads.
Although other participants agreed with this thought, it was lamented that even without a disaster "cell phones are unreliable."
Nugent-Hill pointed out, "In the last 10 years 25 percent of small businesses impacted by a natural disaster were unable to fully recover."
She said that an organization directly affected by an emergency or disaster needed to assure the public that it will be back in business as soon as possible.
Majesty took the thought a step further stating, "If people don't trust a plan to deliver it is not going to work."
When Nugent-Hill asked the business people and government officials if their plan was perfect, the response was laughter. She said, "Of course, the answer is no." She said that everyone needed to keep working to help their plans evolve, get better. She said no plan that did not include a Plan B would be an effective plan.
Fermin Rodriguez, of Hovensa, said the oil refinery was concerned about plans for disaster response at St. Croix schools and so Hovensa was setting a meeting next Thursday at 2 p.m. to discuss the situation with concerned residents..
Nugent-Hill said ham radio operators, although becoming scarce, are still one of the most reliable methods of getting news out about a disaster and officials should look to using their services. She said a ham radio operator first got news out of Grenada after last year's hurricane Ivan ravaged the country.
Nelthropp said after Friday's seminar, "It was an excellent workshop. It gave us a lot to think about."

Back Talk

Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here