Sept. 8, 2005 The territory will use the same forms and respond through the same channels of command as the states when it has an emergency such as a hurricane, V.I. Territorial Emergency Management director Harold Baker said Thursday.
He said that the territory, as ordered by President George W. Bush, participates in the National Incident Management System.
"It will improve the territory's ability to get federal funding," he said.
Baker said that using standardized forms allows those up the chain of command to get information that is not "garbled" from the territory.
"They won't have to read between the lines and will be able to respond more quickly," he said.
He said an announcement Wednesday about the territory's participation was meant to reassure residents anxious in the wake of last week's devastating Hurricane Katrina. Gov. Charles Turnbull said in a news release that he had issued an executive order to designate the NIMS as the basis for managing all incidents.
Participating in what emergency managers call NIMS means that those professionals and volunteers involved in emergency response must get certification through an on-line course. That currently is underway in the territory.
Baker said that VITEMA met Thursday with about 50 members of private sector on St. Thomas to let them know that they can become Federal Emergency Management suppliers should an emergency hit. He said other meetings are planned for St. Croix and St. John.
"They can have a piece of the pie if they have sufficient supplies," he said.
He said that they must have a contract in place with the Property and Procurement Department.
Baker said that the Army Corps of Engineers will have ice and water ready for distribution if a hurricane threatens.
"So there's no panic," he said.
However, he urged residents to have about three days worth of food and water on hand when a hurricane is on its way.
He said people should put the items in sealed containers to protect it from water damage in case flooding occurs.
Baker said that while the territory is in good shape when it comes to emergency response, VITEMA continues to fine tune its readiness.
"We're not sitting still," he said.
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.