Chantal and the Chance to Improve the Resilience of the Roofs of our Homes.

The Office of Disaster Management (ODM) continues to impress on Dominicans and the general public the need to plan in advance for disasters or adverse events. Individuals must be sufficiently concerned about themselves and their families to adopt an attitude of precaution and to rid themselves of the temptation to procrastinate. We must give due attention to all the hazards that can impact us as a people be it earthquakes, tsunami, volcano, a fire or a storm. Preparedness and mitigation is therefore critical at building resilience and limiting loss of life and impact on property. Dominica's unique terrain and geology presents additional challenges for its citizens and heightens the level of risks associated with events which cause heavy rainfall such as tropical cyclones.

Tropical cyclones get its name when the wind speed gets to 39 miles an hour (MPH) and a storm becomes a hurricane when the wind speed reaches 75 MPH. If buildings are affected when storm force winds impact them, then it means that many buildings cannot withstand a category one hurricane.

Tropical Storm Chantal, which affected Dominica on Tuesday July 9, 2013, exposed several families to the reality that even a strong storm is a very serious matter of concern. Tropical cyclones, (storms or hurricanes), are hazards which cause damage to roofs among other damage due to strong winds. The ODM wishes to challenge home owners to pay very close attention to the condition of their roofs. This means the quality of rafters, plates, ring beams, purlines, zinc/galvanize and nails must be examined closely with a view of taking corrective measures well in advance of any storm or hurricane. The roofs of ten buildings were affected in the Soufriere, Galion area and an investigation by the technical staff of Local Government Division and the ODM revealed that in most cases the strength of the roof structure was compromised prior to impact.

The ODM over the past two years, through a safer building course, with the support of the State College and CDEMA has encourage safer building practices by exposing our skilled persons to technical information that will help improve the quality of the service they provide as builders and contractors. Home owners themselves are being challenged to assess the exposure of their homes to disasters and take some simple non-costly actions which could save their roofs and homes. A country with a resilient building stock is a more resilient country and strengthening roofs by replacing termite-eaten rafters and purlines with new ones, placing hurricane straps or removing corroded roofing nails and replacing them with screws are actions that could help save a roof.

We are still in the hurricane season and families, home owners, business owners must take heed and take steps to strengthen their homes and businesses against these hazards.

The important message is to be prepared at all times and taking steps to make weak roofs that are no match for storm force winds, far less hurricanes, would help save financial resources at recovery and rehabilitation.

Please be reminded that Planning to Plan is not a Plan.

We welcome comments and feedback please do not hesitate to contact us at; and visit our website at ; weather hotline 447 5555; and or website at