Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 25, 2016 (SKNIS): Two tsunami-readiness certificates were accepted by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Osmond Petty, on behalf of Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, at a brief handing over ceremony this morning (October 25).
The two documents were given for “successfully implementing the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) Tsunami-Ready Pilot Project in the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis.” It is dated October 20, 2016.
Mr. Petty said that over the last few months the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Nevis Disaster Management Department had been collaborating in the preparation of the project with assistance from physical planning and the police and through the Caribbean Tsunami Information Centre. He said the main sponsors are the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNESCO.
He thanked the National Disaster Coordinator Carl Herbert and the Deputy National Disaster Coordinator Claricia Langley-Stevens who was said to be at the forefront of the tsunami project.
“I want once again to thank NEMA for coordinating this activity and to say that there are two certificates, one will be in Nevis and one will be in St. Kitts, but I’ll present both first to the Prime Minister and he will probably hand one over to Premier Amory for Nevis,” Mr. Petty said. “So thank you very much Mrs. Langley-Stevens and we look forward to continued collaboration with the sponsors as this event unfolds.”
The Permanent Secretary said: “We want to solicit the cooperation of the general public – there is nothing to be alarmed about but just to participate in the preparations and being aware of the possibility of tsunamis and what should be done in case there is a tsunami event in the Federation.”
Mrs. Langley-Stevens gave some background to the project noting that over a year ago NEMA and the Nevis Disaster Management Department engaged the University of the West Indies in a seismic earthquake awareness campaign and this enabled them to realize that St. Kitts and Nevis was very vulnerable to the impact or threat of a tsunami.
To improve this situation the pilot programme for the tsunami readiness was done in Port of Spain, Trinidad and resulted in the certification.
“That meant that just like other hazards we had to be in a position to be prepared to be ready and have the population be informed and educated,” Mrs. Langley-Stevens said. “So that was the stepping stone that led us on the road to becoming what is referred to as tsunami-ready. And tsunami-ready does not necessarily mean that because we received the certificate that if a tsunami comes today or tomorrow that all will be well.”
Mrs. Langley Stevens explained that to be truly tsunami-ready there would have to be much follow-up activity following the certification. This would include media sensitization, exercises with students and teachers as well as general public awareness activities.
The Deputy Disaster Coordinator explained that at the certificate-presentation ceremony there was also the launch of the International Tsunami Awareness Day that is going to take place annually on November 05. She said this was done in the presence of representatives of the Caribbean Tsunami Warning Centre and other stakeholders. A logo and tsunami song were revealed and St. Kitts and Nevis was recognized among 51 other countries around the world and three English-speaking Caribbean countries that participated.