Because tsunamis remain a serious threat to the territory, the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) is encouraging the community to learn more about this deadly force of nature during Tsunami Preparedness Week, March 19 – 25.
VITEMA is also urging the community to practice walking the evacuation route if they reside, work or often play in the tsunami inundation zone. VITEMA’s USVI Tsunami Evacuation Maps can be found at www.vitema.gov/plan-prepare. The maps delineate the tsunami inundations and delineate coastline inundation as well as safe areas, evacuation routes and assembly points.
“Tsunamis are not like tropical storms or hurricanes where the territory is warned more than 24 hours ahead of the impact,” said VITEMA Director Mona Barnes. “It is highly possible that you may have 10 minutes or less to get out of harm’s way if you are on the coastline. It is so important that our community understands what a tsunami is, what the natural warning signs are and how to respond.”
“No one should live in constant fear of a tsunami,” Barnes said, “but everyone should be aware that it can happen and that there are ways to protect yourself and your family. For a tsunami, you must get to higher ground as quickly as possible. Wherever you are, you should have an idea of where higher ground is.”
VITEMA is also asking the community to register their Tsunami Preparedness Week activities and participation at www.tsunamizone.org.
Caribe Wave 2017 Tsunami Exercise
VITEMA will mark the week by participating in the annual Caribe Wave 17, the Caribbean region tsunami response exercise, which is scheduled for March 21. The exercise is designed to help communities identify operational strengths and weaknesses.
At 10:15 a.m., on Wednesday, March 21, VITEMA will activate the territory’s 24 sirens to broadcast the system’s Test Message and its All-Clear Message. Siren locations are:
- Thomas: Cyril E. King Airport, Crown Bay, Addelita Cancryn School, Griffith Park, Enid Baa Library, Yacht Haven Sugar Mill, Long Bay, Magen’s Bay, Coki Point, Sea Side Inn — Frydenhoj, Red Hook Marina, Fort Christian
- Croix: Cramer’s Park, Divi Carina Bay, D.C. Canegata Ball Park, Government Parking Lot in Christiansted, Estate Sion Farm, William’s Delight, La Vallee; Government Parking Lot in Frederiksted; Fisher Street in Frederiksted; Sprat Hall in Frederiksted
- John: Winston Wells Park in Cruz Bay, Guy Benjamin School at Coral Bay.
As part of Caribe Wave 17 tsunami exercise, VITEMA will also hold a tabletop exercise to evaluate its response operations for this type of event. Caribe Wave 17 simulates a major earthquake in the Northeastern Antilles that generates a tsunami. The tsunami is expected to reach the U.S.V.I. coastline within three hours, according to the scenario.
For more information on the U.S. tsunami warning system, go to www.tsunami.gov.