NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (March 22, 2023) — The following is an address by Hon. Spencer Brand, Minister of Disaster Management as Nevis joins the region in the annual tsunami awareness, Caribe Wave Tsunami Exercise on March 23, 2023.
It gives me immense pleasure as Minister with responsibility for Disaster Management on the island of Nevis, to join the staff of the Nevis Disaster Management Department as we highlight the tsunami hazard during the month of March. This month’s activities are part of the department’s Public Awareness and Education Multi Hazards Campaign. This campaign encourages a participatory approach to empower our audience groups to become informed messengers contributing to behavioral change.
A tsunami is a series of powerful, fast-moving waves of extremely long lengths and periods usually generated by disturbances associated with earthquakes occurring below or near the ocean floor. The first wave is almost never the largest or worst. Tsunami surges can last for many hours, even days. These waves may reach enormous dimensions and travel across entire ocean basins with little loss of energy.
A tsunami with a peak wave height of 2-3 feet can flood coastal communities, impact our ports, and coastal infrastructure, and cause other damage and casualties.
As part of the tsunami awareness activities, the Nevis Disaster Management Department will join with the International Tsunami Information Center – Caribbean Office (ITIC-CAR), the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Tsunamis and other Coastal Hazards Warning Systems for the Caribbean Sea and adjacent regions (CARIBE-EWS), in addition to counterparts around the region and local stakeholders to participate in the annual Caribe Wave Tsunami Exercise scheduled on Thursday 23rd March 2023, commencing at 10 a.m.
This Caribe Wave exercise is designed to test our Tsunami Protocols and Standing Operating Procedures, as we continue to strengthen our resiliency against the threat and risks associated with tsunamis and other coastal hazards. The objectives of the exercise will focus on: (a) emergency communications (b) coordination (c) evacuation protocols (d) assembly points procedures (e) monitoring and evaluation.
The impact of tsunamis can spark fear and confusion among our communities. Tsunamis steepen and increase in height on approaching shallow water, inundating low-lying areas and may cause loss of life and extensive damage.
Our history reminds us that in the year 1690, a massive earthquake of magnitude 8.0 and [a] subsequent tsunami destroyed the city of Jamestown, then the capital of Nevis. The likelihood of another impact is real, as there are many reports of destructive earthquakes occurring in our region and internationally. Planning and preparedness activities can increase our chances of survival and recovery from such an impact.
In this regard, I do implore all government agencies, the private sector, marine interests, coastal communities and ALL persons living, working or doing business in the Tsunami Hazard Zones in St. Kitts and Nevis to participate in the annual Caribe Wave Tsunami Exercise. Let us ALL join the effort of practicing how and where to evacuate safely, so we will know what to do for a real tsunami.