May 13, 2014 will be indelibly etched in the memories
of staff at the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) as a delegation from
the department stood before their regional and international peers to receive
the TsunamiReady Recognition award.
Director of the DDM, Ms. Sharleen DaBreo who headed
the DDM delegation, received the TsunamiReady certificate on behalf on behalf
of His Excellency Governor Boyd McCleary, CMG, CVO.
Ms. DaBreo was also presented with a similar
certificate for her leadership role in ensuring that the BVI attained
TsunamiReady recognition while other DDM staff attending the ceremony received
TsunamiReady pins and stickers to be affixed to emergency response vehicles in
The United States based National Weather Service (NWS)
which piloted the TsunamiReady initiative, has also provided two signs
affirming the BVI status as a TsunamiReady community. These will be placed at
the ports of entry.
In her acceptance speech, Ms. DaBreo commended the DDM
staff for their commitment to the project and the Governor and elected
officials for their unwavering support.
“What we witness here today is the culmination of
countless man hours invested by very experienced and very knowledgeable officers
of the DDM who worked tirelessly to ensure that the necessary steps were taken
to make the BVI TsunamiReady,” Ms. DaBreo told those gathered for the start of Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Tsunami and
other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions
She added, “It
was by no means an easy process but with a willing and dedicated staff, the
tsunami inundation maps were analysed, evacuation routes created, tsunami
evacuation maps designed, public awareness enhanced and tsunami evacuation
signage installed, all of this paving the way for a TsunamiReady BVI.” The DDM Director also acknowledged the
support of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, particularly that of
Superintendent St. Clair Armory.
States Virgin Islands (USVI) also received the TsunamiReady designation at
Tuesday’s ceremony. In his remarks, USVI Governor John P. de Jongh Jr. noted
that while the economies of both territories are buoyed by the tourism industry
which is based largely on the ability of their physical attributes to attract
visitors, the very nature of these islands highlight “risks and hazards that
each of us as policy makers recognise that we have to deal with every day.” He
also noted that success in emergency management is based on developing and
maintaining partnerships as well as the ability to respond in time of need.
In her turn at the podium, Manager of the NWS
Caribbean Tsunami Warning Programme, Mrs. Christa von Hillerbrandt-Andrade said
significant strides have been made over the years, in tsunami and other coastal
hazards warning systems and there is an ongoing commitment to enhance these
Noting that there are still gaps in the system, Mrs.
Hillerbrandt-Andrade said efforts must be made to complete the observational
network in the region. “There are now over 50 evacuation maps in the region but
still, most countries do not know how high a tsunami can be nor do they have
these maps,” she noted, while encouraging countries to capitalise on
opportunities to strengthen tsunami inundation and evacuation mapping.
The NWS TsunamiReady initiative is aimed at promoting
tsunami preparedness as a collaborative effort in vulnerable communities. BVI and
Anguilla are the only territories outside of the United States to have received
such recognition. TsunamiReady Recognition is valid for three years.
Photo Caption: Representatives
from the Department of Disaster Management and their colleagues from the United
States Virgin Islands receive TsunamiReady certificates, signs, pins and
stickers at the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Tsunami and other
Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (CARIBE
EWS) in St. Thomas on Tuesday, May 13, 2014.