(CNS): Officials have said that local authorities will be joining in a Caribbean-wide tsunami response exercise on Thursday in order to evaluate plans and communications strategies, increase preparedness, and improve regional coordination. Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) Deputy Director of Preparedness, Danielle Coleman, said it would “test the current procedures of the Tsunami Warning System and help identify operational strengths and weaknesses”.
Entitled CARIBE WAVE 18, the test will simulate a widespread ‘tsunami warning and watch’ situation throughout the Caribbean, which requires implementation of local tsunami response plans. The exercise will include notification to the local media and representatives from various key government agencies.
It comes after the local authorities were criticised over what some believed was a patchy response to an actual tsunami warning in January following an earthquake in Honduras.
According to officials this exercise involves the simulation of a major earthquake and tsunami off the Caribbean coast of Columbia at 9am on March 15, 2018.
“One of the challenges of rapid onset threat events like a tsunami is getting the warning out to the public efficiently and effectively,” said Coleman. “A broad based Emergency Alert System is in development for the Cayman Islands, but it is not ready yet, and until the system is fully established, HMCI and other first response agencies continue to rely on more traditional communications vehicles to get the information out.”
The exercise will test established mechanisms and attempt to optimize existing communications capacities to get public safety messages out efficiently. It is sponsored by the UNESCO/IOC Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (ICG/CARIBE-EWS), the Caribbean Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Centro de Coordinación para la Prevención de los Desastres Naturales en América Central (CEPREDENAC), and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).