JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is undertaking measures to increase tsunami awareness and preparedness among Jamaicans.
  • A tsunami, also known as a seismic sea wave, is a series of waves in a water body caused by the displacement of a large volume of water.
  • They are produced by earthquakes or underwater landslides.

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is undertaking measures to increase tsunami awareness and preparedness among Jamaicans.

A tsunami, also known as a seismic sea wave, is a series of waves in a water body caused by the displacement of a large volume of water. They are produced by earthquakes or underwater landslides.

Training Manager at ODPEM, Cheryl Nichols, said special attention is being placed on educating the public on what to do in the event of a tsunami hitting Jamaica.

“We have sought every opportunity, once we speak about an earthquake, to also speak to the likely event of an accompanying tsunami and this is something that the ODPEM stresses.

“We have… used a number of traditional and non-traditional media to get the message across,” she informed.

Ms. Nichols was addressing a recent JIS Think Tank against the observance of earthquake and tsunami quarter between January and March.

Ms. Nichols further stated that ODPEM has been promoting its campaign which advises persons to “just run,” in the event of a tsunami.

 “We have been trying to take it to another level where, since we have the fastest man on the planet and …his surname is Bolt and within our traditional saying we know when we talk about “bolting” it means you run as fast as you can,” she informed.

Ms. Nichols added that persons should identify the highest points within their communities that they can get to within a relatively short period of time.

In support of ODPEM’s thrust to educate the public, Director of Safety and Security in Schools at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Coleridge Minto, said that all schools are being urged to develop a disaster plan.

 “ Last year we were on a drive to promote this, asking the schools to ensure that they have a disaster plan in place so that should something happen, you know exactly what the plan is and how it would be executed in the event of any disaster,” he said.

ASP Minto further noted that the Ministry and ODPEM, through sponsorship from the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, have developed a disaster preparedness manual that has been issued to all schools and that can also be found on the Ministry’s website.

Meanwhile, Programme Director, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas, Dr. Katherine Ellins, said Jamaica must pay close attention to volcanic activities in the Caribbean as they could trigger tsunamis that may affect the island.

“Imagine if you have Soufrière Hills in Montserrat erupting and creating a landslide that could trigger a tsunami that would reach Port Royal, Jamaica, within two hours, based on the behaviour of that particular wave,” she noted.

Dr. Ellins also cited the Kick ‘em Jenny submarine volcano in Grenada that erupted in July 2015.