Although no activities are being held locally, today, to commemorate the day, the Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA) continues its tsunami preparedness education to establish tsunami ready communities across Montserrat and a national tsunami plan is currently being finalized to take to Cabinet for approval.
Tsunamis are a rare event, but they can be extremely deadly, hence, the DMCA believes the observance of this day will bring greater awareness to the dangers of tsunamis and help improve residents knowledge and preparedness.
Though the topography in Montserrat has very few low lying areas, a tsunami could still impact the island depending on the intensity of the tsunami waves, the undersea features, and the land topographic elevations.
In the event, Montserrat should be impacted by a tsunami, the islandwide siren system installed will warn residents of a tsunami threat on the island. The sirens are tested daily.
A tsunami warning sign has already been erected at Little Bay as part of DMCA’s efforts to raise awareness among the general public of how to react to the threat of tsunamis.
Little Bay has been identified as the first area to benefit from the installation of the first tsunami warning sign and tsunami simulation exercise will be conducted in that area in 2019.
This project will see other tsunami-vulnerable areas benefitting from the installation signage including evacuation routes and the demarcation of rendezvous points and mapping of vulnerable coastlines.
Meantime, Director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) Roderick Stewart says in Montserrat, there have been three occasions when collapses of the dome entered the sea and generated tsunamis.
They are the December 26, 1997, collapse in White River valley that generated a small tsunami in Old Road Bay and the collapses on July 13, 2003, and on May 20, 2006, that, generated wave heights around the Tar River Valley up to 6-8 metres.
Mr Stewart confirmed that these tsunamis were very localised and would not have been seen at other locations.
He said the tsunami hazard in Montserrat that needs to be highlighted is from more distant sources – tsunamis generated by other volcanoes in the Caribbean Sea or generated by earthquakes.
“The Caribbean Tsunami Warning System will hopefully provide warning of these”, he stated.
The theme for this year’s observance is “reducing direct disaster economic loss in relation to GDP”.