How many people know that there is the ever present possibility that the Caribbean can be affected by a tsunami? Barbadians over the years have contracted a false sense of security as complacency has taken root. Barbados experienced an earthquake recently which measured 5.3 on the Richter Scale and there was bedlam which followed. When the reaction of Barbadians to a moderate earth tremor is assessed against what Californians or even the Trinidadians confront routinely for that matter, we think you get the picture. Barbadians continue to build homes which cannot withstand a 60 mph wind gust, use steel in the building of our structures which is of the inferior variety, now we have to say to them watch out for tsunamis. It makes the BU household go hmmm.
For those doubting Thomases, the record shows that there has been the occurrence of tsunamis of which the “most recent catastrophes occurred in the San Blas Islands (Panama) in 1882, in Puerto Rico in 1918 and the Dominican Republic in 1946.” The last time we checked Barbados was located in the same archipelago as Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic! It is interesting to note that the Intergovernmental Coordination Group (ICG) which was set-up to establish early tsunami warning systems for the Caribbean region held its first meeting in Barbados in 2006. Coincidentally, “the third session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group (ICG) for the Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (CARIBE EWS), will be held in Panama, from March 12 -14.” and the outcome of that meeting should be of concern to all Barbadians.
The Caribbean region is currently being monitored by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC). Obviously the logistics of this entity which is located in the Pacific area presents a logistical issue to start. We are happy to learn that the plan is for the Caribbean region to have its own rapid response centre by 2010. As a region we want to minimize lost of life if a tsunami were to strike in the Caribbean given that people is our greatest resource. The other important aspect is linked to the Caribbean region being a favourite destination by millions of tourists annually who are to be found lazing on our beautiful beaches most of their stay.
We decided to highlight this known threat and what is being done by the various agencies to safeguard the region.