IOM Assists Disaster Response Exercise in Micronesia and the Marshall Islands
Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) & Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) - Representatives from central and state governments, USAID, the US Coast Guard, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), UNOCHA and diplomatic missions met in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and Majuro, Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), last week for a major disaster preparedness exercise.
IOM participated in and assisted with the coordination of the Operational Blueprint Tabletop Exercise, which was jointly facilitated by the US Joint Taskforce for Homeland Defence and the FSM and RMI governments.
The exercise, the first of its kind, created a hypothetical typhoon scenario aimed at testing preparedness, response and reconstruction. The scenario included damage or destruction to up to 90% of private residences and extensive damage to public infrastructure inflicted by a Category 3 typhoon.
It offered participants an opportunity to analyse, plan and coordinate response efforts in order to minimize the risk to communities. It also helped them to assess their state of readiness, discuss coordination mechanisms and identify gaps to be addressed prior to the imminent typhoon season.
In addition, it familiarized them with the Operational Blueprint - a document which outlines the US disaster assistance process in the FSM and the RMI, for which USAID assumed responsibility in November 2008.
IOM, as a principal implementation partner providing operational support to USAID, briefed some 165 participants in both countries on the details of its USAID-funded Disaster Mitigation Relief and Reconstruction Program.
"Micronesian and US officials taking part in the exercise described it as constructive and hoped that it could be organized annually to improve preparedness and ensure optimum coordination in the event of a major natural disaster in the region," said IOM official, Ashley Carl.
While US officials were in Pohnpei and Majuro, they visited two out of three of IOM's logistics bases in region, which house pre-positioned humanitarian relief equipment and supplies. IOM has a third base in Yap.
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