The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) has been described as one of the most respected meteorological-associated agencies in the region.
Chairman of the Disaster Recovery Coordination Committee (DRCC), Brodrick Penn hailed the DMM as ‘well-respected’ while speaking this week at a public meeting in Carrot Bay about government’s proposed recovery plan for the BVI.
“From the Director down to the staff; we have one of the most robust disaster management systems throughout the region,” Penn said.
His statement comes weeks after the territory was placed on a tsunami advisory, which most residents claimed they did not know about until the threat had passed.
Critics now blame the DDM for not doing more to warn residents.
They said many lives would have been lost had a tsunami actually happened.
But, Penn reminded residents that most of the DDM’s emergency warning system was destroyed during the September 2017 hurricanes.
“What we are talking about is a complete system failure because of the magnitude of the storms that had passed,” he said.
However, the DRCC Chairman said mechanisms are still at the ready in case of a tsunami.
He said tsunami routes have been identified, text message alerts are functional, among other things.
Penn then called on residents to be ‘as cautious as possible’ going forward.
Reflecting on what could have happened at the time of the tsunami threat, one resident called on the government to urgently equip the DDM so residents can be properly warned whenever there is an emergency.
“… these are the things that we have to start looking at seriously. It is not a joke,” the resident said.
However, the government has already approved for the DDM to receive $442,000 to re-establish the territory’s National Early Warning System.
The January 9 advisory
A tsunami advisory was issued for the British Virgin Islands on January 9 after an earthquake measuring a magnitude of 7.6 occurred north of Honduras.
A tsunami advisory means that sea level is expected to repeatedly rise and fall by as much as one to 3.3 feet above and below the tide level in cycles that may take from five minutes to an hour.
The Honduras earthquake had a depth of 20 miles and was located approximately 1,447 miles west of Road Town on Tortola.
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