Tsunami drill for Barbadians next Thursday
- by Barbados Today
March 6, 2021
March 6, 2021
Barbadians will next week be put on alert for a tsunami – an imaginary one – as the island is put through paces of a nationwide preparedness drill on Thursday.
The drill is part of the annual CARIBE WAVE exercise, Director of the Department of Emergency Management Kerry Hinds told journalists Friday in recognition of National Earthquake Preparedness Day.
CARIBE WAVE is organised by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations scientific agency, UNESCO for islands and coastal nations in the wider Caribbean to test their emergency response.
Just a day ago, territories throughout the Pacific Ocean, from New Zealand, were put on a tsunami alert that was triggered by one of the strongest earthquakes to hit the South Pacific in modern history.
The magnitude 8.1 quake, the largest in a series of tremors over several hours, forced thousands of people 620 miles away in New Zealand to evacuate coastal areas on Friday.
Small wave surges were witnessed in some New Zealand coastal areas. The National Emergency Management Agency later said the threat had passed and people could return to their homes, although they should continue avoiding beaches.
Hinds said: “Barbados will use this opportunity to test its communication systems; so, for example, our National Emergency Communications Network, other various modes of communication like WhatsApp
, our Common Alerting Protocol that is the mass dissemination app that DEM has in place.
“It is expected that the messages will come from the Pacific Warning Center, as per our standard operating procedures, and they will filter into our national warning focal point, which is our MET office. From there it fans out into the emergency management system, down into the communities, of course communicating the warning messages to the public.”
The pre-scripted exercise is expected to last around two hours, with all relevant emergency organizations expected to fully take part in the scenario.
The DEM has increased the level of information being shared with the public during March, in an effort to bring more awareness towards the best safety practices in the event of an earthquake or a tsunami, she said.
The DEM director said: “This month we have mounted an increased, pervasive, educational exercise because it is a continuous and ongoing exercise to education the Barbadian public. There are some persons who may have never heard of the hazard before, and it is an opportunity to educate those persons.
“There are some that have been participating in CARIBE WAVE and the entire tsunami month for a while now, and they are very abreast of the various actions that they need to take in case of a tsunami or an earthquake. It is very important for us to ensure that the entire country is ready, noting that there are some segments of the population that may need increased focus in terms of our PR programme.”
In a tsunami alert, emergency authorities will tell people along coastal areas to move immediately to higher ground. (SB)
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