BVI Department of Disaster Management finalises plans for 2009 exercise

Tortola, Tuesday, March 31 (DDM) - The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is finalizing plans for their 2009 simulation exercise to be held later this week. Entitled LANTEX (North Atlantic Tsunami Exercise), the drill will be done in conjunction with disaster response agencies on the United States and Canadian east coasts, as well as the Gulf of Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.

The pseudo earthquake, measuring 8.6 in magnitude off the northern coast of Puerto Rico, will generate a destructive tsunami in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The earthquake/tsunami exercise will take place on Thursday, April 2, 2009.

Director of DDM, Sharleen DaBreo said, “We are excited about the exercise because of the private sector involvement and the positive feedback we have been getting from the community. Several agencies, government and private, will undergo a full evacuation of their facilities.”

This exercise provides an opportunity for individuals as well as organizations to test their plans and procedures, operational lines of communications and to promote earthquake/tsunami awareness and preparedness. “Though in the Territory we do not always think of the possibility of a tsunami impacting our islands, it is important to always be ready for such a threat because we are geographically located in a relatively active seismic region” added DaBreo. “Tsunamis can occur as a result of an earthquake as was seen in the 2004 Boxing Day event that claimed the lives of over 200,000 individuals in the Pacific.”

While this disaster resulted in a horrendously high number of fatalities, the death toll could have easily been doubled or tripled were it not for certain factors. The tsunami information disseminated throughout the country had successfully educated the populace on the signs, destructive potential and life saving measures related to this unstoppable phenomenon. This education came not just from schools, disaster offices and government agencies, but also through the stories told by parents and grandparents, as they recalled and subsequently related incidents of tsunami impact to children and grandchildren. Thus, those who remembered, and those who were told, were informed enough to take the steps necessary to save themselves.

DDM has worked with various partners throughout the years to plan for such an event. A siren system has been implemented that will sound when the Territory is threatened by a major hazard. During this time the public is encouraged to tune in to any local radio station or TV station CBN Channel 51 where the National Emergency Broadcast System (NEBS) will be implemented relaying messages to the public about the threat and the immediate actions that should be taken.

The public is reminded that during the exercise the National Emergency Broadcast System will be activated, some businesses will be evacuated and other response agencies will be conducting their response drills. “We expect to have a bit more movement in town and on the Sister Islands as the exercise progresses. We have gone through great lengths to minimize disruption to the public, but we are asking for the public’s full corporation throughout the TEST period. We also encourage persons to practice their own business and family emergency plans as we go through this exercise. ” concluded the Director.

The public is encouraged to follow the exercise on DDM’s website at www.bviddm.com. There will also be a survey online for residents to fill out to assist the Department and other agencies to improve their alert and response capabilities.

For information, please contact:
Department of Disaster Management
#3 Wailing Road MacNamara
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Ph. 284-468-4200 Fax: 284-494-2024
E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.