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You are here: Homepage > Press Room > Press Releases 2005 > NHC Better and Stronger for 2005 Hurricane Season

We have arrived at a much enhanced and more streamlined structure for the NHC

Mr Donovan Ebanks, NHC Chairman

Published 1st June 2005, 3:9pm

Hurricane season 2005 has officially started and taking it head on is an improved National Hurricane Committee (NHC).

"After months of consultation and planning we have arrived at a much enhanced and more streamlined structure for the NHC," said Mr Donovan Ebanks, NHC chairman. "Several committees have been reorganised and new committees have been added, in response to lessons learned from Hurricane Ivan. We feel we are now in a much better position to meet the many demands of any post-hurricane situation."

The new organizational structure groups the NHC’s role and responsibilities into four operational areas: emergency response, human concerns, infrastructure, and support services. Each area will be the ultimate responsibility of an NHC deputy chairman who will assist the chairman in the administration of the NHC, as part of an executive team.

"Grouping NHC sub-committees with connected responsibilities together into these operational areas will make for easier decision making and more efficient administration," explained Mr Ebanks, adding that government was indebted to the hard work or sub-committee heads and members in working with the consultants James Lee Witt and Associates to accomplish the changes and to prepare for this season.

"I urge families, businesses and community-based organizations and individuals who haven’t yet done so, to take the same critical look that we did at their own hurricane preparedness and response arrangements to see what improvements they need to make and how they can assist each other."

NHC Operational areas

The following is the new operational structure:

The Emergency Response section includes the Evacuation and the Emergency Telecommunications sub-committees, as well as the Search and Rescue sub-committee, which has been split from Initial Clearance to be a separate sub-committee. A new Debris Management sub-committee, to handle and disposal of post-storm debris, will also fall under the Emergency Response group. Also in this group is the District Emergency Committee (Cayman Brac and Little Cayman). It is intended that district emergency committees will be developed in each district with the participation of the respective Members of the Legislative Assembly and other community leaders.

The Human Concerns grouping comprises the Mass Casualty and Casualty Fatalities management sub-committee (formerly Medical Relief), the Essential Relief Services sub-committee, a new Shelter and Mass Care sub-committee to focus specifically on that aspect, and a new Temporary Housing sub-committee. The Red Cross, which works closely with the NHC, also falls under the Human Concerns grouping.

Infrastructure links the Utilities and Communication, the Initial Clearance, and the Damage Assessment sub-committees.

The final grouping is Support Services. This group encompasses Logistics, which covers the Civil Service, Records Preservation (responsible for the safekeeping and restoration of public documents and records), Finance and Budget, and Transportation. Support Services also covers economic continuity, international liaison, and communications.

The Economic Continuity sub-committee is a new one, responsible for assessing economic impact of the storm and recommending measures for economic continuity. The International Liaison sub-committee, which is still in development, will be responsible for assessing what international relief is needed and liaising with international donors for the coordination of such relief.

Reflecting the increased emphasis on local and international communication, the Education and Warning sub-committee has been renamed as the Joint Communication Service (JCS) sub-committee. The JCS will have the same task as its predecessor, namely ensuring the provision of public information, including regular emergency updates, locally and overseas before, during and after a storm, and ongoing public awareness and education on hurricane preparedness issues. However, the new structure formalizes, for the first time, the relationship between different agencies and departments in the dissemination of information. It also seeks to better cater to the assortment of groups who have an interest in what has happened or is happening in the Cayman Islands.

Comprised of personnel from Government Information Services, Portfolio of Finance and Economics, the Department of Tourism and the Weather Service, and as well as representatives from NGO’s and the private sector, this sub-committee’s responsibilities will include information coordination and media and community relations, and the operation of a media centre adjacent the NHC emergency operations centre.