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Following its failure to issue a tsunami alert in a timely fashion after an earthquake struck the Caribbean earlier this month, the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, has released detailed information relative to preparedness in the event of an actual occurrence.
Many residents had complained that the only alert they received from VITEMA following the earthquake was one announcing the cancellation of the tsunami advisory, but no notification alerting residents of the actual earthquake and possible tsunami.
VITEMA Director Mona Barnes had blamed the delay on connectivity problems at the agency, which she said was rectified around the same time the tsunami advisory was cancelled — hence the reason why, she said, both advisories came almost in tandem. Some residents disputed Ms. Barnes’s response, however, contending that they only received the latter alert.
Here’s the agency’s full preparedness informational:
A tsunami consists of a series of ocean or sea waves that can be generated by an earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide or meteoric impact. In deep water, the tsunami can travel as fast as 500 miles per hour (equivalent to the speed of a commercial jet). Near the shore, however, a tsunami slows down, the distance between its waves decreases and the wave height increases.
People on beaches or in. low coastal areas, need to be aware that a tsunami could arrive within minutes of a severe earthquake – and the danger period can continue for many hours. Tsunamis can occur any time of year, day or night. The wave height could be tens of feet destroying everything along its path, when flooding and when receding.
To define the evacuation zone for the U.S. Virgin Islands, an 82 ft. (25 meters) elevation profile was used; it was reached within 2 miles of the coast, another factor considered. This evacuation criterion was based on historical events, tsunami modeling results from Puerto Rico and the US National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program guidelines. See attached Tsunami Evacuation Map for evacuation zones and additional information.
For your safety, remain alert to:
Know the difference
Note: Once the Tsunami Warning Center believes that the threat of a tsunami has ended, it will issue a cancellation. Nevertheless, if evacuation orders were issued, only return to the evacuated area if the designated authorities have declared it is safe to do so.
Additional Tsunami Preparedness and Response Information
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