Any damages in St. Kitts and Nevis caused by Hurricane Dean, which is currently churning in the Atlantic Ocean, or any other natural or man-made disasters will be quickly assessed by a pool of trained persons thus expediting recovery efforts.

Twenty-five persons are being trained at a two-day workshop to be a part of the National Disaster Assessment Committee. The training began last week and is being conducted at the headquarters of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

?At the end of the two days, all of the individuals will be able to go out ? when the all clear is given, after a disaster ? and do an initial damage assessment of physical structures,? NEMA’s District Coordinator Telca Wallace told SKNIS, adding that the training was timely.

The course is being facilitated by Beryl Ambrister, the regional consultant for the United States? Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. She explained that her visit to St. Kitts and Nevis was not prompted by the approaching storm but instead is part of a previously planned programme. She has been coming to St. Kitts for several years to work with NEMA in training persons in areas such as training of trainers, needs analysis and shelter management.

Ms. Ambrister stated that her agency will soon expand training to include risk management and disaster risk reduction in the region. The consultant stressed that if Hurricane Dean makes landfall in St. Kitts and Nevis, assistance will be available if necessary. There are approximately 40 trained persons in the initial disaster damage assessment group in St. Kitts.

According to its official website, the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) is the office within the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) responsible for facilitating and coordinating U.S. Government emergency assistance overseas.

OFDA responds to all types of natural disasters, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, floods, droughts, fires, pest infestations, and disease outbreaks. It also provides assistance when lives or livelihoods are threatened by catastrophes such as civil conflict, acts of terrorism, or industrial accidents. In addition to emergency assistance, the Office funds mitigation activities to reduce the impact of recurrent natural hazards and provides training to build local capacity for disaster management and response.

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