The Virgin Islands joined nearly 400,000 residents of the Caribbean and Latin America on March 11 to participate in Caribe Wave, the annual tsunami preparedness exercise.
Schools, businesses, families and Government agencies from around the Territory practiced earthquake and tsunami safety responses of drop, cover and hold and evacuating to higher ground.
Department of Disaster Management (DDM) Acting Director Mr. Jasen Penn said he was pleased that so many persons joined the exercise from the private sector and the public service.
“I am especially grateful that His Excellency the Governor John J. Rankin, and Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie acknowledged the importance of these types of exercises by participating alongside their staff,” he said.
He added, “I am pleased that other Government officials including the Deputy Governor, senior managers, heads of department, and even executives within the private sector all participated to set an example that I very much hope would be followed in case of an actual emergency.”
The director said the exercise also saw DDM officers standing up the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) at its designated alternate location in the Territory’s 911 Call Centre.
“One of our departmental objectives was to exercise the physical set up of the alternate EOC location as outlined in the National Disaster Management Plan. The staff moved with efficiency and was able to establish/stand up the EOC in just a few minutes, which allowed us to test communications with many of the participants who were evacuating at the time,” Mr. Penn said.
Training Manager Ms. Carishma Hicks thanked all participants for doing their part to help the Territory be ready for the rare but serious threat of a tsunami.
“We know from previous events that the more persons understand about the risks of hazards like tsunami and earthquake impacts, the better prepared they will be to act quickly to save the lives of themselves and their family members,” Ms Hicks said, adding, “Practicing safe response techniques helps to identify any needed improvements to emergency plans and procedures.”
This year’s scenario focused on a major earthquake occurring off the coast of Jamaica, triggering a tsunami warning around the region including in the BVI. In the event of a tsunami generation in close proximity to the BVI, evacuating to high ground within a few minutes and establishing the safety of structures before standing up the NEOC can save lives.
All participants are encouraged to share their feedback on the exercise via a survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Caribewave21GenFeedback.
Caribe Wave is coordinated together with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Caribbean regional emergency management stakeholders including Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), and regional national disaster management offices. The purpose of this exercise each year is to advance tsunami preparedness efforts in the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions.