Residents urged to be ‘earthquake ready’

TORTOLA, U.S.V.I.: U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Boyd McCleary has urged residents to be earthquake ready following the massive quake that hit near the eastern coast of Japan last Friday that generated a destructive tsunami. He has also assured that the government is doing its best to prepare the country’s emergency response agencies as well.

Although earthquakes cannot be predicted, McCleary, who is also the Chairman of the National Disaster Management Council (NDMC) and who has overall responsibility for the territory’s Disaster Management Program, pointed out that the Japan quake was the second major earthquake to have occurred within a one-month period and said residents should take heed.

“Residents of the V.I. are urged to pay close attention to the events unfolding to learn from the response actions being taken…Our state of readiness must be at its highest at all times,” said McCleary.

Director of the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), Sharleen DaBreo, added that the Virgin Islands lie in a region that has the potential to be impacted by a major earthquake, similar in strength to the event that occurred in Japan.

“Earthquakes occurring in this part of the region can generate undersea landslides that can set off tsunamis,” said DaBreo. “Preparedness is the key to surviving these types of events.”

McCleary said that Japan had spent millions of dollars preparing for an event of this magnitude by investing in mitigation techniques to strengthen infrastructure and to ensure their residents were prepared. He added that local officials are also getting themselves ready.

“The DDM is currently making preparations to execute a National Earthquake and Tsunami Full Scale Exercise that will take place this month,” said McCleary. “Although the focus of this exercise is on schools and emergency response agencies I am urging all government departments and private sector organizations to take full advantage of the exercise and to test their plans and procedures for earthquake and tsunami response.

“Every effort is being made, with strong support from the Premier and me to ensure that all government departments, agencies and schools have disaster management plans that are in compliance with the Disaster Management Act.”

Japan’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake last Friday was the fifth strongest in the world since 1900.

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