The CARILEC Disaster Assistance Program (CDAP) was established to facilitate cooperation among Member Utilities to better manage the damages caused by annual hurricanes. Accordingly, the programme was formerly known as the CARILEC Hurricane Action Plan (CHAP). However, after recognising that disaster could be triggered by many other natural occurrences such as volcanoes, floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis, the CARILEC Secretariat felt it imperative to expand the scope of coverage offered by the programme to include other common natural disasters.
The main objective of CDAP is for the CARILEC membership to provide joint manpower assistance to an electric utility that has suffered damage as a result of a disaster. Member utilities often experience extensive damage to their transmission and distribution (T&D) systems and consequently were faced with a high cost for restoration efforts. Therefore, CDAP functions through a two (2) fold system: Member Utilities make an annual contribution to the CDAP fund, and the CARILEC Secretariat manages the usage of the fund to coordinate regional efforts to respond to requests for assistance from disaster-stricken Member Utilities. Some of the activities undertaken by the Secretariat under this programme include the deployment of engineers to undertake damage assessments and line crews to carry out T&D line restoration work.
Successful implementation of disaster restoration activities calls for the CARILEC Secretariat to collaborate with member utilities requesting assistance and those providing assistance, as well as with regional and international public and private sector agencies. The success of CDAP has also been contingent on CARILEC’s partnerships with key regional agencies such as the Caribbean Disaster & Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and its subsidiary agencies, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organisations (CANTO), to name a few. As recent hurricane seasons have been described as ‘above normal’ and other natural disaster such as volcanoes have impacted the region, CDAP has operated in a very dynamic fashion in that lessons learnt in one year are applied in the succeeding year. It is CARILEC’s vision that the programme continues to grow with increased membership, while also diversifying the range of assistance offered to Member Utilities