In order to raise awareness in coastal communities and promote education and the preparation of their emergency plans against the possible threat of a tsunami, the Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Administration (NMEAD) of the Department of Public Safety ( DSP), in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Seismic Network (PRSN), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Meteorological Service (SNM), urge citizens to participate in the Caribbean Wave 2021 exercise.
“Preparation for future emergencies must be a priority for every Puerto Rican family. Fortunately, Puerto Rico has not been hit by a tsunami for more than a hundred years. However, we are not exempt from the fact that in the future we will have to suffer a serious situation, as has happened in other countries around the world. We want our communities to be prepared and to know how they should react to this type of emergency ”, said the secretary of the DSP, Alexis Torres.
On the other hand, the acting commissioner of NMEAD, Nino Correa Filomeno, explained that the exercise will be carried out on Thursday, March 11, 2021, from 10:00 a.m. In it, a scenario equivalent to an earthquake will be simulated. of magnitude 8.5 north of the Lesser Antilles. The official reported that the municipalities have at their discretion the activation of their tsunami alarm system.
“At 10:07 am a tsunami alert will be issued and citizens will be able to receive it through the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which interrupts radio and television programming to report the event. In this case, the message will indicate that it is a test exercise. Similarly, the Integrated Public Alerts and Warnings System (IPAWS) is being activated, so that some mobile phone companies could send an alert message to their subscribers. I call on all Puerto Ricans to participate in the Caribe Wave, educate themselves, orient themselves, and involve their families. With this type of exercise, we can reinforce what we have learned and stay alert to respond diligently and effectively to unexpected situations. The safety of our families depends on the response to these situations, ”explained the commissioner.
Meanwhile, the director of the Puerto Rico Seismic Network, Víctor Huérfano Moreno, explained that this year the exercise is carried out on the day that commemorates the tragedy caused by the Magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the coast of Tohoku in Japan, which generated a tsunami with waves of more than 40 meters and caused the death of more than 15,000 people.
“The seismic sequence experienced by the southwest area of the Island since December 2019 and the main event of magnitude 6.4, has made it clear to us the importance of being prepared and the importance of all of us participating in drills, validating our family communication plans and organization and we know in advance what to do if the tsunami protocol is activated. Education and preparedness are essential to face an earthquake or tsunami emergency. The Caribe Wave exercise gives us that opportunity to review how effective our plan is “It is about saving our lives. For this, the entire community must be informed, know the most effective responses to this type of situation,” said Dr. Huérfano Moreno.
To be counted as a participant in the exercise, you must register at tsunamizone.org/español/caribewave. You can choose to register your participation as an individual or register your family, agency, workplace, among others. You will also find the description of the scenario to be used for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as well as important information related to the exercise.
Meanwhile, Orlando Olivera, coordinator of the FEMA Caribbean Office, explained the importance of this type of exercise in the preparation processes for future emergencies.
“One of our most important responsibilities is to stay prepared and help our communities achieve that goal. When we do practice exercises like this, we review the resources we have available and identify the ones we need to protect our lives, families, and property. Throughout the year, FEMA works hand in hand with the State Bureau of Emergency Management and our municipal, state, federal, nonprofit and private sector partners to ensure we are ready to respond in an emergency. This is a job that touches us all. Prepare yourself well today, download the FEMA application on your phone and use the tools that we put at your fingertips ”, highlighted the official.
Finally, the SNM advisory coordinator, Ernesto Morales explained that, “Puerto Rico has 46 municipalities that have been recognized as“ Tsunami Ready ”by the National Meteorological Service and 44 of these are coastal. This exercise will allow us to check our level of preparation and gives the municipalities the opportunity to prove that they comply with all the requirements of the program. After the emergencies that have affected Puerto Rico in recent years, it is important to ensure that all communication systems operate properly and this exercise allows us to improve and identify faults in order to correct them in time. “
Officials urged citizens to participate in the exercise, always remembering the preventive measures to avoid contagion with covid-19 such as frequent hand washing, physical distancing and the use of masks.
In Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the Caribbean Wave coordinators are: PRSN, NMEAD and the SNM Forecast Office of San Juan, with the support of FEMA, the Puerto Rico Broadcasters Association and the local EAS committee.