February 13, 20193754Views

Businesses and residents are encouraged to test their tsunami response plans in the regional simulation exercise on March 14.

The exercise, titled ‘CARIBE WAVE 19’ provides countries and Territories in the Caribbean and adjacent regions with the opportunity to improve their tsunami warning system’s effectiveness by promoting tsunami preparedness as well as validating and updating their tsunami response plans.

As is customary, two possible scenarios have been developed for the Caribe Wave exercise; one of which will be based on a magnitude 6.0 earthquake associated with an underwater volcanic eruption and subsequent collapse of an unstable sector of Kick’em Jenny which generates a tsunami.

Training Officer at the Department for Disaster Management Ms. Carishma Hicks recommends that all sectors of the community including Government departments, private companies, organisations, and schools participate in the exercise as it would allow them to enhance their earthquake and tsunami evacuation plans to ensure the lessons learned from the 2017 events are incorporated and properly tested.

Ms. Hicks said, “2019 marks the 10th year BVI has been participating in this regional exercise.  This is especially significant as this year will be the first time an underwater volcano scenario will be used as the trigger for the tsunami. This scenario presents a perfect opportunity for the public and private sector businesses, schools and residents to test our state of readiness and updated response plans.”

Kick ’em Jenny is a submarine volcano located north of Grenada and about 200 meters below the surface of the sea. It is the only ‘live’ submarine volcano in the Eastern Caribbean and is also the most frequently active volcano in the region, erupting at least 14 times since it was discovered in 1939.

Ms. Hicks explained, “These annual exercises help us to test our plans and procedures against possible events that can occur in the region.  Kick ‘em Jenny can pose a significant threat to the BVI if there is a violent eruption or if large earthquakes are generated.  We must, therefore, be ready to respond to these possible impacts.”

The DDM has worked through 2018 to rebuild the national early warning and alerting systems that were damaged by the 2017 disaster events.  Several of these systems have been re-installed and this exercise will be used to test these systems to ensure the BVI population can be appropriately notified and can receive the alert messages.

During the exercise, alert messages will be disseminated to key officials and members of the public via telephone, SMS from CCT, Digicel and Flow, WhatsApp Groups, DDM Alert App, Social Media, BVI DDM website and other alert mechanisms. Persons or organisations wishing to participate in Carib Wave 19 can indicate their interest in participating by emailing the Department of Disaster Management at [email protected].

The exercise is being coordinated locally by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) and is viewed as an important aspect of the Territory’s Tsunami Ready status.

The DDM is encouraging widespread participation in this year’s exercise, not only because of the Territory’s geographic location which predisposes the islands to earthquakes that often triggers tsunamis but also because these types of simulations have been proven to reduce the loss of life during actual events.

Persons interested in participating should contact the department on or before March 7 at 468-4200 or email [email protected] for registration and guidelines.

CARIBE WAVE is the annual tsunami exercise of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO/IOC), the Caribbean Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Programme (NTHMP)—a partnership of 29 states and territories and three federal agencies.

The Territory received the Tsunami Ready designation from the US-based National Weather Service (NWS) in 2014 and was re-accredited in 2017.  Annual participation is a requirement to maintain the designation.