NEMA Led Assessment of Landfill Fire Impacted Areas

The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, led a coordinated assessment exercise to gather information on the impact the landfill fire is having on residents in the Jubilee Gardens and Tall Pines communities.

On Saturday, March 11, 2017 a walkabout was held in those areas to gather information to supplement the data bank managed by the Department of Social Services temporary command center at the Kendal G L Isaacs Gymnasium.

The team comprised Social Workers, personnel from the Department of Environmental Health Services, the Department of Housing, and the Ministry of Works and Urban Development.

Director of NEMA Captain Stephen Russell said that NEMA, being a coordinating agency, assists in the assessment in the aftermath of any disaster, natural or manmade and to make recommendations to the Government for assistance and restoration.

“We are trying to see how we can make recommendations to the government as to how we can help these persons in some tangible way, to help them regroup from what they have experienced over the past week,” he said.

As residents had to evacuate their homes due to smoke invading their homes, the Kendal G L Isaacs gym was transformed into a temporary shelter to house those impacted. The Department of Social Services reported that the fire impacted approximately 600 homes in Jubilee Gardens.

Social Services Deputy Director Lillian Quant-Forbes said that 290 heads of households visited the gym for assistance. Also, Social Services accommodated 41 families – 162 residents – at hotels, motels and other places. The department will continue to assist with accommodations as the need arises; even though the cut-off period ended on the weekend, she said.

The purpose of the Department Environmental Health Services is to conduct air quality tests on the homes impacted, said Anthony Ryan, public analyst at the DEHS. He reported that so far, 19 homes closest to the dump were tested for air quality.

“The levels were not alarming, but of course our emphasis right now is clean up,” he noted.

Mr Ryan explained that Phase 1 is investigating for soot material – black stains from the smoke – entering into the homes and depositing on walls and furniture. He encouraged residents to open their windows to allow air to flow, which would aid in reducing the strong smell of smoke in their homes.

The relevant agencies will continue to assess the impact of the fire until the quality of the environment is at a level where the All Clear will be issued for residents to return to their homes.

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