January 17, 20183632Views

Wednesday, January 17, 2018– Residents throughout the Territory will soon have an opportunity to participate in the upcoming CARIBE WAVE 18 tsunami exercise which is scheduled to take place on 15th March, 2018.

The annual tsunami exercise, organized by the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Region, will provide an opportunity for its member states, including the BVI, to test their plans, improve their Tsunami Warning System effectiveness and promote tsunami awareness.

Last year close to 4500 persons across the British Virgin Islands participated in the evacuation exercises planned and executed by the DDM.  They were guided to designated assembly areas and had the opportunity to test their evacuation plans and procedures.

Training Officer Carishma Hicks who has been organizing these exercises since 2008 is calling for residents to fully participate this year. “We want to ensure that there is full participation by all especially in light of the tsunami advisory that was issued for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands recently.  We want to test the procedures that would have been implemented if that advisory message was changed to a tsunami warning for the BVI.”

On 9th January an earthquake measuring 7.6 magnitude struck near Honduras at 10:51 pm (local time) at a depth of 10km.  In accordance with the Tsunami Protocols a Tsunami Threat Message was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center for countries close to the epicenter and an Advisory Message was issued by the Puerto Rico Seismic Network for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

On receiving the advisory message the DDM alerted key officials and members of the public using telephone, Whatsap Groups, Social Media and subscribers on the BVI DDM website.

A Cancellation Message was issued by the Puerto Rico Seismic Network at 12:16 am (local time) on January 10th.

Ms. Hicks explained the differences between the advisory and the warning statements issued by the Puerto Rico Seismic Network. “If an earthquake poses only a marine tsunami threat to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands then a tsunami advisory is issued.  This may result in minor flooding of harbours and beaches.  This level of impact is a hazard to swimmer, surfers, divers, boaters and others engaging in coastal ocean recreation or work activities.  In considering the actions to be taken during a tsunami warning there will be changes in sea level accompanied by repeated flooding and draining of land near the coast accompanied by damage to or destruction of coastal structures. This level of tsunami impact is a hazard to all persons in coastal areas and inundation zones and under these circumstances evacuation will be required.”

Persons or organizations wishing to participate in Carib Wave 18 can indicate their interest in participating by emailing the Department of Disaster Management at [email protected].