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10th March 2017

Tsunami Response Exercise for the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands will join other localities in the Caribbean as a participant in an annual tsunami response exercise called the CARIBE WAVE 17 on Tuesday, 21 March 2017.

Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) Director, McCleary Frederick, says the purpose of the exercise is to evaluate local tsunami response plans, increase tsunami preparedness and improve coordination throughout the region.

“The exercise will simulate a widespread Tsunami Warning and Watch situation throughout the Caribbean, which requires implementation of local tsunami response plans,” he explains.

The specifics of the simulation are that a major earthquake (8.2 M) occurs off the South East coast of Cuba, which then generates a tsunami. The event which is modelled by NOAA produces a 9-foot tsunami wave that impacts the Sister Islands in 29 minutes and Grand Cayman in 45 minutes.

The Disaster Preparedness and Hazard Management Law, 2016 requires the establishment of an Emergency Notification System which is well established in many countries, and provides an effective solution for distributing critical and sometimes lifesaving information to residents and visitors in a timely manner.

“HMCI is pleased to be working with the Utility Regulation and Competition Office, also known as OfReg, to implement a mass alert or emergency notification system for the Cayman Islands,” Director Frederick explains.

“The ability to issue early warnings or other emergency messages not only through mobile devices but with local radio and television stations would be a positive development in the way the public is notified,” the director adds. “We hope to get a sense of how effectively we can do that in the upcoming tsunami exercise.”

He went on to say: “The exercise will include a public notification via text message that will test the ability to provide emergency messages to residents and visitors, and help identify operational strengths and weaknesses in the Cayman Islands.”

All FLOW and Digicel customers will receive a text message at 9:10 a.m. on Tuesday that reads: “MESSAGE ALERT: This is a test of the Emergency Notification System for the 2017 Tsunami Exercise. THIS IS ONLY A TEST.”

“It is likely that the establishment of a fully functioning and effective Emergency Notification System will take time to achieve, but we are committed to seeing the process through, and we appreciate all stakeholders’ assistance and technical expertise in helping to realise this important public safety goal,” Director Frederick states.

Once the exercise is complete a final text will follow with a survey monkey link. HMCI is asking the public to please take the online survey to evaluate the success of the excise.

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