ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) has admitted that Antigua & Barbuda is not adequately prepared to deal with a major tsunami and has called for these threats to be taken seriously.
The region was on Monday put on notice to prepare for tsunamis by the Intergovernmental Oceanic Commission of UNESCO.
“Lurking beneath the azure waters that wash up on countless coastal and island beaches and vacation spots is the potential for a devastating tsunami,” UNESCO IOC assistant director general Wendy Watson-Wright said.
The official said it is not a matter of if but when a tsunami will strike the region.
Responding to a question from OBSERVER Media on whether the twin island nation was entirely prepared, NODS Director, Philmore Mullin answered, “No, we are not.”
This is not the first time the region has been told to prepare adequately for a tsunami, neither is it a new phenomenon. There are several historical reports of tsunamis generated within the Caribbean region.
The Trinidad & Tobago based seismic research unit has given the region notice of a “very large” earthquake that is more than likely to trigger a tsunami.
Mullin said the inevitable impact of a tsunami on the region is “very urgent.”
He said the warning systems primarily in the Caribbean are “inadequate” and only effective for threats coming from far.
The NODS director said adjustments are currently being made to the island’s disaster plan to respond to the tsunami threat but noted that according to preliminary studies conducted here some communities will be badly affected.
“There are communities in certain locations, that if there were a tsunami, we are satisfied that based on some work that we have done in house, these communities would be impacted,” he said.
Mullin added that in the absence of scientific data it would be difficult to formulate a relevant response.
A Puerto Rico based early warning system for the Caribbean is expected to be in place by 2014.
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake.