February 6, 20051887Views

The British Virgin
Islands will join several other countries and territories in testing their
tsunami readiness during the simulation exercise, Caribe Wave/ Lantex 2014,
scheduled for Wednesday, March 26.

The exercise is geared
towards improving tsunami preparedness efforts in the Caribbean and
Northwestern region.

The Department of
Disaster Management (DDM) is coordinating the BVI’s participation in the
exercise. DDM’s Training Officer, Ms. Carishma Hicks is encouraging widespread
participation in this year’s exercise.

“We are strongly
encouraging the entire population to see the benefit in testing their tsunami
readiness. Government departments, private companies, organizations and schools
should use the March 26 simulation exercise as an ideal opportunity to test
their earthquake/tsunami evacuation procedures,” Ms. Hicks said.

The possibility of a
massive earthquake and tsunami can no longer be regarded as a remote concept.
It is a very real threat and the BVI, like many other Caribbean countries is
vulnerable. “Observing what has been taking place in the Caribbean and the
recently published article on Caribbean 360 “Deadly Caribbean Tsunami
Risk”, the region is not only vulnerable to what is happening with the
Caribbean tectonic plate but we are equally susceptible to the impact of
tectonic plate movement across the world,” Ms. Hicks warned. 

She added that “scientific
evidence has already proven this to be the case in Anegada which experienced
over-wash following the 1755 earthquake in Portugal.”

According to the DDM Training Officer, the national
simulation exercise also presents an opportunity to evaluate the operational
readiness of the National Emergency Alert and Broadcast System; evaluate the
level of preparedness for earthquake /tsunami event and to test the tsunami
evacuation routes.

Telecommunications provider, Digicel is partnering
with the DDM to test the mobile alerting system as part of the exercise.

The DDM is currently
in the midst of ensuring that the BVI is tsunami ready and qualifies for the
designation provided by the United States National Weather service. This
Tsunami Ready programme seeks to ensure that countries which are vulnerable to
tsunamis, undertake measures to reduce the potential for disastrous
consequences in the wake of a tsunami.

To this end, the DDM
has created tsunami evacuation maps for the four main islands and in the coming
weeks, tsunami evacuation signs will be erected to guide persons in vulnerable
areas to safe zones.

The signs will be in
place ahead of the simulation exercise and are expected to further guide
participants in the evacuation process.

Testing the BVI’s
tsunami readiness takes on even more significance when considered against the
backdrop of predictions of very large magnitude earthquakes, that could affect
the region.

In the wake of the
earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, scientists warned that it could be
the first of several affecting the region. Scientists are particularly
concerned about the possible generation of a catastrophic tsunami on the scale
of the 2004 Indian Ocean disaster.

Persons wishing to
participate in this exercise should contact the DDM at 468-4200 for
registration and guidelines. Caribe Wave/ Lantex 2014 is
sponsored by the United States
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States
National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Programme (NTHMP), which is a partnership of
29 states and territories and three federal agencies. 

(Photo Caption: Public servants evacuating the Central Administration Complex during a previous simulation exercise.)