Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Dr. Leo Brewster, said that the training offered through the Sub-Regional Tsunami Evacuation Mapping Workshop could help in preparing communities for other coastal hazards such as storm surges and coastal flooding. (FP)

Natural disaster officials are reiterating that Tsunami Evacuation Mapping is one of the main keys to being tsunami prepared/ready as mapping helps people in communities know where to go to avoid the waves and to do so efficiently.

To assist Barbados and other regional territories become tsunami ready, a Sub-Regional Tsunami Evacuation Mapping Workshop, which started today, Monday, August 8 and will run until Friday, August 12, is being hosted at the Radisson Aquatica Resort. 

Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Dr. Leo Brewster, in his remarks at the opening ceremony, stressed: “We’re at a point in our regional development where the issues of coastal hazards and tsunamis are becoming more and more important.”

Dr. Brewster believes that through the workshop, especially the hazard assessment and mapping segments, the information provided to participants would allow them to gain a better understanding of the type of awareness needed to establish tsunami ready communities.  He said the training could help in preparing communities for other coastal hazards such as storm surges and coastal flooding.

Emphasising the need to be prepared, was Programme Officer Tsunamis and Other Coastal Hazards, UNESCO/IOC-Caribbean Tsunami Information Centre, Alison Brome, who stated: “We need to be prepared.  We need to prepare our communities and ourselves through mapping through public awareness and education… and a number of the other initiatives…”

Reiterating the need for preparedness was the Humanitarian Logistics Specialist, United States Agency for International Development/Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, Pablo Bredt Torres. He noted that community preparedness will save lives and it is essential to be prepared because “tsunamis are no notice, fast, onset natural hazards that can cause catastrophic impact and it is impossible to know when or where the next tsunami will hit.”

“Local, regional and distant earthquakes, as well as landslides and volcanic eruptions, could all trigger tsunamis and would attack coastlines of the Caribbean within minutes,” he added.

Mr. Torres divulged that, in his role, when visiting areas that had been impacted by natural disasters he could tell the difference between communities that were or weren’t prepared.  He explained that if people and communities don’t prepare and don’t evacuate in time, thousands of lives could be lost and massive economic loss could be incurred. This, he stressed, would have long-lasting negative humanitarian social and economic effects.

During the workshop, course participants will engage in techniques that teach how to build capacity, prepare communities for such an event and develop tsunami evacuation maps for communities at risk, which is one of the 12 indicators of the Tsunami Ready Pilot Programme, created by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Participants from Barbados were joined by others from Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago who work in areas that include Emergency Management, Physical Planning, Coastal Zone Management, Lands and Surveys and Meteorology.

sheena.forde-craigg@barbados.gov.bb

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