A Red Letter day as BVI receives Tsunami Ready Recognition Award

Tortola, British Virgin Islands, May 14th, 2014 (DDM) - May 13, 2014 will be indelibly etched in the memories of staff at the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) as a delegation from the department stood before their regional and international peers to receive the TsunamiReady Recognition award.


Director of the DDM, Ms. Sharleen DaBreo who headed the DDM delegation, received the TsunamiReady certificate on behalf on behalf of His Excellency Governor Boyd McCleary, CMG, CVO.

Ms. DaBreo was also presented with a similar certificate for her leadership role in ensuring that the BVI attained TsunamiReady recognition while other DDM staff attending the ceremony received TsunamiReady pins and stickers to be affixed to emergency response vehicles in the Territory.

The United States based National Weather Service (NWS) which piloted the TsunamiReady initiative, has also provided two signs affirming the BVI status as a TsunamiReady community. These will be placed at the ports of entry.

In her acceptance speech, Ms. DaBreo commended the DDM staff for their commitment to the project and the Governor and elected officials for their unwavering support.

“What we witness here today is the culmination of countless man hours invested by very experienced and very knowledgeable officers of the DDM who worked tirelessly to ensure that the necessary steps were taken to make the BVI TsunamiReady,” Ms. DaBreo told those gathered for the start of Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Tsunami and other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (CARIBE EWS).

She added, “It was by no means an easy process but with a willing and dedicated staff, the tsunami inundation maps were analysed, evacuation routes created, tsunami evacuation maps designed, public awareness enhanced and tsunami evacuation signage installed, all of this paving the way for a TsunamiReady BVI.” The DDM Director also acknowledged the support of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, particularly that of Superintendent St. Clair Armory.

The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) also received the TsunamiReady designation at Tuesday’s ceremony. In his remarks, USVI Governor John P. de Jongh Jr. noted that while the economies of both territories are buoyed by the tourism industry which is based largely on the ability of their physical attributes to attract visitors, the very nature of these islands highlight “risks and hazards that each of us as policy makers recognise that we have to deal with every day.” He also noted that success in emergency management is based on developing and maintaining partnerships as well as the ability to respond in time of need.

In her turn at the podium, Manager of the NWS Caribbean Tsunami Warning Programme, Mrs. Christa von Hillerbrandt-Andrade said significant strides have been made over the years, in tsunami and other coastal hazards warning systems and there is an ongoing commitment to enhance these systems.

Noting that there are still gaps in the system, Mrs. Hillerbrandt-Andrade said efforts must be made to complete the observational network in the region. “There are now over 50 evacuation maps in the region but still, most countries do not know how high a tsunami can be nor do they have these maps,” she noted, while encouraging countries to capitalise on opportunities to strengthen tsunami inundation and evacuation mapping.

The NWS TsunamiReady initiative is aimed at promoting tsunami preparedness as a collaborative effort in vulnerable communities. BVI and Anguilla are the only territories outside of the United States to have received such recognition. TsunamiReady Recognition is valid for three years.

Representatives from the Department of Disaster Management and their colleagues from the United States Virgin Islands receive TsunamiReady certificates, signs, pins and stickers at the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Tsunami and other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (CARIBE EWS) in St. Thomas on Tuesday, May 13, 2014.

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