With seismic activity continuing in the region, the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is encouraging the public to prepare early to participate in the annual Caribe Wave regional tsunami exercise on March 19.
This year’s scenario is modeled after an event occurring in Jamaica, which has the potential to impact the Virgin Islands in three hours.
Deputy Governor David Archer Jr announced that this year, the Caribe Wave exercise, which is usually well supported within the public service, will see the participation of all public service entities. This he said will be done so that these entities can test departmental and agency emergency plans.
Mr. Archer in a memo to all public officers said, “Your commitment to remaining in a constant state of readiness is encouraging. I commend those of you who have used the opportunity to increase your public awareness activities as well as to conduct evacuation drills.”
DDM’s Training Manager Ms. Carishma Hicks said that the December to January earthquake swarm centred in south western Puerto Rico as well as the more recent earthquakes near Jamaica, Cayman Islands and Dominican Republic should serve as a reminder to residents that the Territory is vulnerable to earthquakes and other seismic hazards, including tsunamis.
Ms. Hicks said, “Tsunami events may be rare, but they have the potential to cause a lot of harm and they can occur without advance warning. We want persons to practice how they would respond to these events so that should the Territory experience an impact, they would not waste any time getting themselves and their families to safety.”
Ms. Hicks said in addition to mapping out and practicing evacuation routes, the DDM recommends that persons #BeReady for a possible tsunami by planning assembly points and putting together a small bag of essentials including a first-aid kit, prescription medication, flashlight, important documents and battery-operated radio to receive the all-clear message from authorities.
The Training Manager added, “Annual exercises are a great opportunity for families and businesses to review their emergency plans and make any necessary updates.” Virgin Islands schools, businesses, community groups and individuals can register as participants at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Reg_CW2020.
Caribe Wave is held annually in the region since 2009 and uses historical seismic data to generate a test scenario such as last year’s exercise, which was based on a 1939 eruption of the Kick ‘em Jenny Volcano.
More than 600,000 persons have participated in the Caribe Wave exercise each year since 2017. Participating states besides the Virgin Islands include Haiti, Aruba, United States, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Previous years have seen as many as 7,000 persons participating in the exercise, which is organised by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United States Geological Survey.