BVI residents are invited to improve their readiness for earthquake and tsunami events by joining the regional Caribe Wave exercise taking place on Thursday, March 11.
Caribe Wave is organised by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United States Geological Survey.
It has been held annually since 2009 and uses historical seismic data to generate a test scenario that residents can use to practice their response. Last year’s exercise, for example, was based on a 1755 tsunami generated by a magnitude 8.5 earthquake off the coast of Portugal.
This year’s event is occurring on the 10th anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Fukushima, Japan.
According to Acting Director of the Department of Disaster Management’s (DDM) Jasen Penn, this date was chosen to remind Caribbean citizens of the dangers that come with living in a seismically active region.
“Thinking back to the devastation experienced by a highly developed nation like Japan is a reminder that we should do all we can to prepare for the possibility of a major earthquake and tsunami on our shores. Having a plan and knowing what to do in those crucial moments can save your life, or the lives of your family members or colleagues,” Penn said.
Meanwhile, DDM’s Training Manager Carishma Hicks said the recent earthquakes near Puerto Rico and the ongoing volcanic activity in St Vincent should serve as reminders that the territory is vulnerable to earthquakes and other seismic hazards, including tsunamis.
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, we would not waste any time in getting ourselves and our families to safety.”
In addition to mapping out and practising evacuation routes, Hicks said 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 a 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 preparations.”
Virgin Islands schools, businesses, community groups and individuals can register as participants at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Caribe21_reg
All participants should carry out the ‘Drop, Cover and Hold’ earthquake safety response. Participants should also consider whether their location complies with COVID
-19 safety protocols when deciding whether to carry out an evacuation exercise.
Alternatively, participants may exercise their building safety checks, update their home and family plans, or discuss other aspects of their organisation’s emergency response plan.
Approximately 74,000 persons have registered to participate in Caribe Wave this year.
Participating states along with the Virgin Islands
include Haiti, Aruba, United States, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.