Acting Director for the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) Jasen Penn is encouraging residents of the Virgin Islands to be prepared to respond to earthquakes and tsunamis as they can happen without warning.
Mr. Penn encouraged families, businesses and schools to practice what to do in the event of an earthquake and tsunami as part of the regional Caribe Wave exercise on March 10.
“There’s no season or advance notice when it comes to seismic events, so we in the Caribbean need to stay ready for threats like earthquakes and tsunamis,” Mr. Penn said. He added, “This year’s exercise scenario simulates an earthquake occurring between the islands of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, followed by a tsunami warning. Therefore, we are asking participants to first practice the drop, cover and hold technique for 60 seconds, then they can follow their tsunami evacuation procedures.”
Mr. Penn said exercises like Caribe Wave help residents respond confidently and quickly in the event of an actual hazard threat.
“In cases like the recent volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga,” he stated, “there was minimal injury and loss of life because the majority of the impacted population followed evacuation orders and stayed away from the beaches and shores.”
Families or organisations can participate in Caribe Wave by registering at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Caribewave22reg. They should then review emergency plans, including evacuation routes and assembly areas. All residents are urged to listen out for the activation of the National Early Warning Multi-hazard Alert System, including sirens on March 10.
Participants should carry out the Drop, Cover and Hold earthquake safety response. When deciding whether to carry out an evacuation as part of the exercise, participants should consider if their assembly location allows for maintaining the appropriate distance between persons in keeping with COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Alternatively, participants may choose to practice building safety checks, discuss the emergency response plan as a team, or update their plans. After the exercise, participants should reflect on any possible improvements and update their procedures and plans accordingly.
More than 47,000 persons in the Caribbean have registered to participate in Caribe Wave this year. 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. The exercise is organised by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United States Geological Survey.