The major disaster issue facing Montserrat is volcanic activity. The island has been and continues to be devastated by it. However, the island is also at risk to hurricanes and earthquake activity. Wind and storm surge associated with hurricanes are of major concern. Areas in the safe zone with slopes steeper than 60 degrees would be most at risk. Little Bay, the site of the new port is prone to storm surge. Seismically, it has been determined that the eastern Caribbean is “ripe for a major earthquake”. In terms of a “multi-hazard” event the Integrated Vulnerability Assessment of Montserrat suggests that heavy rainfall associated with a hurricane or tropical storm could trigger a volcanic dome collapse and an eruption.
Montserrat is also at risk to technological hazards, which include oil spills, environmental health, and low altitude aircraft operations. Oil spillage can occur at connection points in Cades Bay. Environmental health, particularly in relation to ash falls, is of great concern. The main aquifers are located in the south of the island, therefore protection of the northern aquifers are critical to the development of Montserrat. The airport facility planned for Geralds has no provision for fuel and landing will be by navigational aid rather than instrument.
The Emergency Department was created in 1989. The Department is multi-sectoral and includes representatives from the ministries in charge of the various Utilities, agriculture, land use and planning, health, environment, education, development planning and finance. In 1999, the Disaster Preparedness and Response Act came into force, further strengthening the Emergency Department. In 2005, the Emergency Department was renamed the Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA) to better reflect its role and function in promoting comprehensive disaster management.