Holetown, St. James is poised to become the first community in Barbados to achieve the UNESCO internationally approved Tsunami Ready Certificate of Recognition.
Over the next five months, the Holetown community will engage in the process that would involve them looking at a range of mitigation, preparedness and response measures to the hazards.
This was disclosed today by Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Kerry Hinds, during the launch of the Road to Tsunami Recognition campaign and the unveiling of Barbados’ second tsunami awareness sign at the Folkestone Park and Marine Reserve today.
“This Tsunami Ready Recognition will signify and celebrate our strides and successes nationally and globally as we improve our resilience to disasters,” she said, noting that today’s activity also represented Barbados’ contribution to the second observance of the international World Tsunami Awareness Day celebrated on November 5, annually.
She explained that the process towards achieving international recognition involved several steps including Barbados having designated and mapped tsunami hazard zones; a public display of tsunami information; easily understood tsunami evacuation maps; the development and distribution of outreach and public education materials and a 24-hour warning focal point to receive official tsunami threats and disseminate alerts to the public.
“This recognition will be in place for a three to four-year period after which we will seek recertification,” Ms. Hinds said.
However, she noted that the journey towards tsunami recognition did not begin today as the Technical Standing Committee on Coastal Hazards, co-chaired by the DEM and the Coastal Zone Management Unit, had over the last five years embarked on a programme to reduce Barbados’ vulnerability to the tsunami and earthquake hazards through public awareness and education.
The Director further pointed out that the establishment of the Tsunami and Earthquake Smart Month of activities in March annually; improved public service announcements; the development of emergency response plans and protocols at the national and community level; evacuation drills; the placement of hazard monitoring and detection equipment in the island’s marine environment and inland; and the upgrading of the island’s early warning and alerting systems, were also achieved during this period.
However, Ms. Hinds noted that the Road to Tsunami Recognition campaign would see capacity building activities such as business continuity and disaster preparedness sessions being conducted among businesses in the Holetown community.
“[There would also be] sensitisation sessions for residents, students, teachers, employees; coastal walks; a treasure hunt; a Run Tsunami Run 5K Walk; a proposed community evacuation drill, and a movie night all aimed at increasing the community’s and by extension, Barbados’ awareness about this coastal hazard while we ensure that we meet the necessary recognition requirements,” Ms. Hinds said.
Meanwhile, she encouraged all those present and the wider community to join the activities to make the Road to Tsunami Recognition journey for Holetown a memorable one as stakeholders sought to transform the community from being a vulnerable population to a resilient one.