by Andre Huie,
Basseterre, St.Kitts (September 7th 2016):-Strategic plans are in place by the Solid Waste Management Corporation (SWMC) to prepare for a natural disaster both at the landfill and garbage collection level. Sydney Matthew, Project Officer and a member of the Disaster Preparedness Committee at the SWMC, said a Rapid Response Team is in place to be the first responders in the event of a natural disaster. At the landfill, Mr. Matthew assured that preparations are initiated immediately to prepare for a pending storm. “If we hear of a pending storm, especially if it’s close by, we start immediately with preparations, like for example securing the equipment at the office, like the computers, place them at higher elevation…we have them wrapped in plastic; even though the building is fairly secure, you never could tell,” he said.
On the issue of flooding, Mr. Matthew also assured that drains from the landfill to facilitate the flow of water are cleaned and free from debris. “An enormous quantity of water would come down from the airport and the main road into the drain and if you are not careful it would easily flood the drain. So what we do is make sure those drains are kept clear and clean not just during the hurricane season but right through the year,” he explained. “There is a storm pond (next to landfill) which we also keep clean so that the water, when it comes down with all that force and volume and quantity, we would allow it to run freely into the storm pond which now connects with the natural pond situated north of the premises,” Mr. Matthew explained.
On the landfill, Mr. Matthew is aware of the challenges to secure the garbage disposal site during and after the passage of a storm. Hence, there is an interim disposal site on the landfill, which depending on the severity of the storm could also pose a challenge. “Because of the constant burying of garbage, (the area) will be soft with all the rainfall and you may not be able to have access (to the normal disposal site)…we made provision so that we have that area prepared that in the event persons cannot go up into the cell itself, we allow them to go around and dispose in the temporary area,” Mr. Matthew said, adding that in most cases, this plan works.
Regarding garbage collection, Mr. Matthew noted that in the event garbage pickup in various communities is delayed due to heavy rains or a hurricane, the SWMC would work assiduously to restore the normal pick up schedule within short order. He advised residents to secure their garbage bins by tying them to a sturdy structure to avoid the wind blowing them away. He also asked residents to ensure these bins have small holes to allow drainage of rain water during a storm. He also assured that the SWMC has its own fuel reserves at the landfill to keep the trucks running, in the event of a disaster where they are unable to get fuel.
Meanwhile, Operations Supervisor Mr. Wilmon McCall also called for residents to secure their bins and homes and prune their trees to minimise the impact of a natural disaster. “When it comes to garbage, the key thing is to secure the waste and the bin because after a storm you don’t want the garbage all over the place,” he said.