Nine local schools were evacuated Tuesday as Saint Lucia joined other countries in the Caribbean and Latin America in a regional tsunami response exercise dubbed – CARIBEWAVE 2017.
The nine institutions included seven schools in Dennery plus the Castries Comprehensive Secondary and Sir Ira Simmons Secondary schools.
The purpose of the exercise was to evaluate local tsunami response plans, increase tsunami awareness and preparedness, and improve response coordination throughout the Caribbean and adjacent regions.
The scenario simulated a large tsunami generated by a magnitude 8.24 earthquake originating off the southeastern coast of Cuba, at a depth of 20 km (12 miles).
According to the scenario, the resultant Tsunami had an inundation height of 1-3 meters and was expected to crest in Saint Lucia (Castries and Dennery) in about 2 hours 45 minutes after the occurrence of the earthquake.
The Director of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), Velda Joseph, told reporters that based on the information received from the Met Office this morning, a decision was taken to activate NEMO’s advisory council and the National Emergency Operations Centre.
Joseph explained that the schools involved in the exercise were evacuated and students went to assembly points until the all clear was given.
She disclosed that the warning dissemination used multiple device early warning systems including the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) smart phone app which can be downloaded from the App Store.
Joseph said that in the future, NEMO will be using that alert system.
“We are happy with the alerting mechanism,” the NEMO Director said, adding that ‘regular’ systems were also used including press releases.