From left to right: Senior Admin Officer with responsibility for PR, Arawak Cement Plant, Wilma Gibson; Owner and Managing Director of Earl’s Funeral Home, Ian Griffith (partially hidden); DEM Director, Kerry Hinds; Minister of Housing and Lands, Denis Kellman and Operations Manager at Consumers’ Guarantee Insurance, Dwayne Holder, looking at the newly erected Tsunami Smart Sign at Sherman’s in St. Lucy. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

The tsunami risk in the region is real and should be taken seriously.

And, Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Kerry Hinds, has emphasised the need for public education and outreach programmes throughout communities in Barbados.

She made these comments last Friday during the unveiling of Barbados’ third Tsunami Smart Sign, which was erected in the Sherman’s, St. Lucy community.

“The Department of Emergency Management has embarked on a pervasive public awareness programme to improve the knowledgeable hazards that can affect them and how to deal with them through preparedness, response and recovery actions,” Ms. Hinds stated.

The Director noted that one of the key objectives of the DEM’s community disaster programme was community engagement, as it sought to ensure sustainability.

She explained that the erection of the signage was just one tangible way that showcases the DEM’s commitment to ensuring that members of the community were aware of the hazards that can affect them, and of the actions they needed to take to protect themselves.

Ms. Hinds explained that Sherman’s, St. Lucy, and Martin’s Bay, St. John, were two pilot communities involved in the United Nations DIPECHO Early Warning System Project. That project sought to reduce vulnerabilities to various hazards in the communities by strengthening preparedness mechanisms through the early warning mechanisms in the form of hazard monitoring and alert dissemination.

She stressed that Barbados and the region always had to be in a constant state of readiness. “That means continued education, training and drilling, refinement of our standard operating procedures and our plans and policies, engagement of the community, [and the] continued engagement of our partners,” she said, noting there was an overall increase in tsunami awareness and engagement this year.

Despite the achievements, the Director said there was always room for improvement. “I shy away from on ‘a scale of one to 10’, but look at it as a continuous process of improvement. If you look at it that way you will always be in pursuit of doing better,” Ms. Hinds maintained.

Meanwhile, Minister of Housing and Lands, Denis Kellman, lauded the initiative and stressed that it was critical for Barbados to place attention in that area to protect its tourism product and the lives of residents living along the coastline.

“We cannot ignore the importance of this event…. We must take any tsunami threat as serious, though we don’t have any practical experiences. We cannot wait until we have a practical experience to react. We must always be proactive and we must also be appreciative of the work of the DEM,” he stated.

Tsunami and Earthquake Smart Month is being celebrated under the theme: Road to Tsunami Recognition.

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