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Business Ties To Disaster Recovery Promoted

April 10, 2009 — With hurricane season on the horizon, occasional earthquakes shaking up things and other disasters a possibility, a bringing the territory's businesses into the territory's disaster recovery program was the focus of a recent workshop.
"In the event of a disaster we have to return to normal quickly," V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency Director Mark Walters said.
The workshop was co-sponsored by Tropical Shipping and Baptist Health South Florida in collaboration with VITEMA.
Baptist Health South Florida is a trustee of the Caribbean-Central American Action organization, which promotes private-sector economic development in the Caribbean.
Local businessman Cornelius B. Prior is the CCAA's board chairman.
"Businesses are the key to recovery. It's important to get money flowing and people back to work," he said.
Prior has a long memory and spoke about the dark days after 1989's Hurricane Hugo when residents depended for months on getting ice, food and other necessities from the government because the grocery stores weren't open. While some grocery stores survived the storm, looters stole their goods and forced them to stay closed.
Jennifer Nugent-Hill, assistant vice president of Tropical Shipping, added that protecting grocery stores must be a priority.
"We feel the private sector has a very critical role in getting the community back and running," she said.
According to Walters, forging formal partnerships with the business community in order to have a coordinated response to disasters is a new effort. He said the St. Thomas/St. John and St. Croix Chambers of Commerce and VITEMA formalized their partnership by signing a Declaration of Principles and Memorandum of Understanding.
No one could be reached at the Chambers of Commerce for comment.
The Chambers of Commerce and the Caribbean-Central America Action organization both agreed to operate within the framework of the territory’s Emergency Management Plan and follow VITEMA's incident command system for direction and control.
Those who signed agreed to jointly increase awareness of best practices in disaster management using presentations that review historical disasters, guide the planning process with the assistance and consultation of disaster management agencies such as VITEMA, develop a template for future planning, identifying private and public sector resources, improve the quality and timeliness of public-private sector communications, and ensure development of and support for a plan on how to address the needs of first responders and their families.
Topics discussed ranged from emergency management for hospitals, to fundamental planning to ensuring continuity of business operations and an overview of how FEMA works with the territorial government in times of disaster.
Security when a disaster happens is one of the issues dealt with at the workshops, Walters said.
Speakers at the event included Walters, FEMA officials, V.I. Adjutant General Renaldo Rivera, U.S. Coast Guard commanding officer Lt. j.g. Rachel Cruzcosa and others. Those who attended included representatives from Hovensa, hotels, supermarkets and restaurants as well as government agencies.
The CCAA will hold similar workshops in the Bahamas and St. Martin.
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April 10, 2009 -- With hurricane season on the horizon, occasional earthquakes shaking up things and other disasters a possibility, a bringing the territory's businesses into the territory's disaster recovery program was the focus of a recent workshop.
"In the event of a disaster we have to return to normal quickly," V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency Director Mark Walters said.
The workshop was co-sponsored by Tropical Shipping and Baptist Health South Florida in collaboration with VITEMA.
Baptist Health South Florida is a trustee of the Caribbean-Central American Action organization, which promotes private-sector economic development in the Caribbean.
Local businessman Cornelius B. Prior is the CCAA's board chairman.
"Businesses are the key to recovery. It's important to get money flowing and people back to work," he said.
Prior has a long memory and spoke about the dark days after 1989's Hurricane Hugo when residents depended for months on getting ice, food and other necessities from the government because the grocery stores weren't open. While some grocery stores survived the storm, looters stole their goods and forced them to stay closed.
Jennifer Nugent-Hill, assistant vice president of Tropical Shipping, added that protecting grocery stores must be a priority.
"We feel the private sector has a very critical role in getting the community back and running," she said.
According to Walters, forging formal partnerships with the business community in order to have a coordinated response to disasters is a new effort. He said the St. Thomas/St. John and St. Croix Chambers of Commerce and VITEMA formalized their partnership by signing a Declaration of Principles and Memorandum of Understanding.
No one could be reached at the Chambers of Commerce for comment.
The Chambers of Commerce and the Caribbean-Central America Action organization both agreed to operate within the framework of the territory’s Emergency Management Plan and follow VITEMA's incident command system for direction and control.
Those who signed agreed to jointly increase awareness of best practices in disaster management using presentations that review historical disasters, guide the planning process with the assistance and consultation of disaster management agencies such as VITEMA, develop a template for future planning, identifying private and public sector resources, improve the quality and timeliness of public-private sector communications, and ensure development of and support for a plan on how to address the needs of first responders and their families.
Topics discussed ranged from emergency management for hospitals, to fundamental planning to ensuring continuity of business operations and an overview of how FEMA works with the territorial government in times of disaster.
Security when a disaster happens is one of the issues dealt with at the workshops, Walters said.
Speakers at the event included Walters, FEMA officials, V.I. Adjutant General Renaldo Rivera, U.S. Coast Guard commanding officer Lt. j.g. Rachel Cruzcosa and others. Those who attended included representatives from Hovensa, hotels, supermarkets and restaurants as well as government agencies.
The CCAA will hold similar workshops in the Bahamas and St. Martin.
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.