Tsunami exercise represented small but damaging waves

| 30/03/2015 | 4 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): Officials from Hazard Management Cayman Islands have confirmed that had last week’s tsunami exercise been the real thing, Cayman would have suffered some significant flooding. Although it was just a three foot surge, tsunamis behave very differently from regular waves, Simon Boxall of HMCI explained and warned it would have caused a continuous, ongoing three foot wave of water coming across our shores without receding.

Given that recent extremely high tides around a foot or more above average crossed the road in a number of places on Grand Cayman, a tsunami akin to the one in the recent exercise would definitely have required residents around the coast to have been evacuated.

“Large parts of Cayman are just a foot or two above sea level so it does not take much to have impacts,” Boxall told CNS, but he said with few historical records about local tsunami impacts predicting what might happen is not easy, he added, pointing out that in the event of the real thing the HMCI would err on the side of caution

“With only a couple hours of warning we would have tried to warn residents and visitors as best we could, to move away from the shoreline,” he said but with no mountains or hills to speak off going far in land or evacuating vertically, in other words going up a floor, in a strong building would be the best response for residents until the all clear. “If a tsunami wave was really heading towards Cayman, all members of the RCIPS would have been called up to assist with traffic control and evacuation of coastal areas, while it was still safe to do so,” he said. “Police vehicles with public address systems would be dispatched to announce along coastal areas expected to be impacted by the wave.”

He said the media would be enlisted to help get the messages out to as many people as possible and government would provide appropriate advice in the circumstances.

Thankfully on this occasion it was just a regional exercise to ensure that the relevant government agencies were on their toes if such an incident was to occur. The Caribe Wave/Lantex 15 exercise across the region was triggered by a simulated earthquake off the cost of Panama which led to a Tsunami of more than three feet reaching Cayman’s shores.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (4)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Phil. In some scenarios we might not get even a 10 minute warning, so a loud siren system, at least in major districts would speed up the coconut telegraph, saving potentially thousands of lives who merely need to ascend a few steps to get clear.

  2. Anonymous says:

    CNS – Thanks for the update article.

  3. Phil says:

    It’s all moot without an alarm or siren to give people notice who aren’t in front of a radio or TV. Every other island has district alarms to warn of such natural disasters but this island would rather spend tax payers money on Police Balls or Sports Funding.

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