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House Speaker blasts NEMA commander

House of Assembly Speaker Patricia Deveaux today blasted National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Commander Stephen Russell for the agency’s lack of response in Bamboo Town after several homes were damaged during a tornado yesterday evening and suggested he may be better suited for a nine to five job.

She said officials from the Ministry of Works and Ministry of Social Services responded to the scene in Seven Hills, but NEMA officials did not show up.

“What I did not see on the ground was NEMA, and I am saying this because I reached out to Commander Russell and Commander Russell – I don’t know if he was home watching the game because I heard they had a game last night – but I can say he was not there,” she said in the House.

“That is who we have to reach out to for emergency response and I am terribly disturbed by that.”

“…I had senior citizens at the age of 80 with live wires, electrical wires hanging, and also no roof and no electricity last night. They had to go to bed with such damage done to their house.

“NEMA was not present.

“Natural disasters do not happen between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Natural disasters can happen at any time, in the dead of the night. And so, I say this to say, these people, if they want desk jobs from nine to five, give them their desk job.”

A tornado also damaged some homes and vehicles in the Cowpen Road area yesterday.

Pinewood MP Myles LaRoda said when spoke to Russell, he explained that he was not aware that Bamboo Town had also been affected by the tornado.

Russell reportedly told Laroda that NEMA’s attention was focused on the Cowpen Road area.

LaRoda assured that “there will be no stone left unturned as it relates to the response.”

Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper added, “This matter will receive attention at the highest possible level.”