Director of the Department of Emergency Management, Kerry Hinds. (FP)

Residents of Barbados are now more aware of the earthquake and tsunami hazards than in previous years.

However, according to Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Kerry Hinds, there is still much work to be done in creating more awareness.

“Over the last couple of years, we recognised that there is a greater level of awareness by the general population of the earthquake and tsunami hazards. This has been fueled by increased seismic activity that has affected Barbados,” she said.

Ms. Hinds told media personnel at a recent press conference to launch Earthquake and Tsunami Smart Month 2017 that the DEM, the Coastal Zone Management Unit, the Seismic Research Centre and other entities also received several requests to deliver sensitisation sessions.

And, she has credited the heightened awareness to a number of initiatives being undertaken over the last five years. “We have been able to have a number of strategic interventions in St. John, St. Lucy, in the Holetown community in St. James, and now in St. Peter,” she indicated.

In addition, she noted that the DEM partnered with the Ministry of Education and a number of other agencies, including the Coastal Zone Management Unit, the Barbados Meteorological Service and the Seismic Research Centre, to undertake a pervasive schools’ programme.

The Director mentioned that the DEM had also assisted schools in developing their emergency plans and procedures over the years, and conducted a number of evacuation drills during Earthquake and Tsunami Awareness Month.

Ms. Hinds told those present that Barbados participated in the inaugural United Nations designation of World Tsunami Day last year on November 5 with the erection of the island’s first tsunami sign at Martin’s Bay, St. John. “Over time we are seeking to expand this effort,” she stated.

However, the Director noted that while significant strides were made, there were some challenges along the way. “Some people still think that the possibility of having a tsunami is very remote, but historical records and accounts bear witness to the fact that Barbados was affected by the tsunami hazard in 1755. While not a catastrophic event, it did pose some threat and it did impact Barbados,” she stressed.

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