Barbados Making Strides In Tsunami Preparedness

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A protocol outlining the standard operating procedures governing how an earthquake or tsunami affecting Barbados will be handled has been approved by the Emergency Management Advisory Council.

That protocol, explained Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Judy Thomas, has been sent on to the Ministry of Home Affairs, also for approval, after which the Attorney General would decide if additional legislation under the Emergency Management Act was needed to promote the goals and objectives of the island???s earthquake and tsunami programme.

Speaking during the launch of the Tsunami and Earthquake Smart month of activities 2015 under the theme: Come on Barbados: Let???s Team Up and Combat the Impact of Coastal Hazards, at DEM today, Ms. Thomas noted this was one of the main strides the island had achieved since undertaking a tsunami programme in 2005.

???We started the programme as a member of the Intergovernmental Coordinating Group, which spearheads [the work for] earthquakes and tsunamis in the Caribbean. We were one of the movers and shakers in the region for this agenda item,??? she said, noting earthquakes and tsunamis were still relatively new hazards for Barbados and the Caribbean.

Acting Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Dr. Lorna Inniss, also noted that Barbados had accomplished a lot since undertaking the journey towards establishing a national early warning system for earthquakes and tsunamis in 2005.

She explained that those efforts received a much needed boost following the 2005 Asian tsunami when the four seismically active regions of the world, including the Caribbean, began to receive international funding to establish early warning systems.

As a result, Barbadian authorities, like others in the region, now benefited from a network of seismic stations established to alert countries in less than one minute that an earthquake had occurred.??The Acting Director also disclosed that a network of sea level stations have also been established across the region to alert countries as to whether or not a tsunami was generated as a result of an earthquake in less than five minutes.

Officials were also working with the United Nations Development Programme to establish a Common Alerting Protocol network to notify residents of a pending earthquake or tsunami.??Dr. Inniss explained that a pilot project was presently being undertaken in Holetown, St. James to achieve this goal.

???We expect over the next few years, every March that there would have been significant progress in the establishment of this national dissemination programme, so that more Barbadians can receive the message in real time,??? she said.

She added that work presently being undertaken under the Coastal Risk Assessment and Management Programme examined eight hazards, including earthquakes and tsunamis, and noted that the findings could assist the Department of Emergency Management in its planning.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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