Caribbean Disaster Coordinators Join Yearly Round Table Amidst Upcoming Hurricane Season And Ongoing Recovery Efforts Following La Soufriere Volcanic Eruptions

The first volcanic eruption at La Soufriere in St. Vincent & the Grenadines occurred on April 9th, 2021 at 8:41 a.m. AST.  Subsequently, there have been a series of eruptions over a two (2) week period, with the most recent eruption occurring on April 22nd, 2021 (La Soufriere Volcano, CDEMA Situation Reports #8 & #21, 2021).  In addition, early predictions for the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season have forecasted an above normal season with an estimated seventeen (17) named storms (Colorado State University, 2021).  Not to mention, the current COVID-19 pandemic is still heavily impacting the Caribbean, with over half a million cases recorded within the region (CARPHA, 2021).

Amidst this multi-hazard environment, disaster coordinators from regional Utilities converged virtually to attend CARILEC’s 2021 Disaster Coordinators’ Round Table under the theme, Resilience. Sustainability. Continuity.  The round table’s feature address was delivered by Mr. Norense Iyahen, Product Development Specialist from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF).  The highly informative presentation informed Utilities of the Parametric Insurance Coverage which has been specifically developed by CCRIF for Caribbean Electric Utilities.  The Electric Utilities’ product aims to limit the financial impact of devastating tropical cyclones by quickly providing financial liquidity to Electric Utility companies when a policy is triggered (CCRIF SPC, 2021).  To date, the Parametric Insurance Product for Electric Utilities has been first purchased by the Anguilla Electricity Company Limited (ANGLEC). 

Other major highlights from this year’s round table included a presentation by Mr. Thomas Mitshcke, CARILEC’s Energy Solutions Advisor on his deployment to St. Vincent & the Grenadines, following the La Soufriere volcanic eruptions, as part of the Detailed Damage Assessment Team, led by the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Agency (CDEMA) on April 14th, 2021.  The Team also comprised representatives from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), and the Regional Security System (RSS).  Mr. Mitschke reported that the team’s findings estimated the total damage and loss to the agricultural, health and water sectors.

Perhaps the most insightful component of this year’s Disaster Coordinators’ Round Table was the Utility updates provided by the disaster coordinators.  The round table provided an ideal online forum where disaster coordinators shared their challenges and successes in managing the impacts of the 2020 Hurricane Season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, amongst other hurdles.  From the Utility update discussions emerged solutions and best practices to challenges faced, and vital information on how the CARILEC Disaster Assistance Program (CDAP) can assist its valued members in mitigating disaster related challenges.  Also reviewed were the CDAP COVID-19 Deployment Protocols which would be implemented in the event of CDAP deployment to an affected island, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CARILEC hails this year’s Disaster Coordinators’ Round Table as a success, recording an attendance of forty-two (42) disaster coordinators, representing fourteen (14) CDAP Participating Utilities.  The Secretariat extends its gratitude to all disaster coordinators who attended and participated in this year’s round table, especially Mr. Anthony Patterson from the St. Vincent Electricity Services Limited (VINLEC) who readily provided updates concerning the utility’s restoration efforts post volcanic eruptions.

Source: CARILEC Communications, 2021

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