Tsunami Ready Recognition Program for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions Launched in 2015

Tuesday, 15 December 2015: 10:35
309 (Moscone South)
Christa von Hillebrandt-Andrade, National Weather Service NOAA, Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program, Mayaguez, PR, United States, Kerry Hinds, Department of Emergency Management, St. Michael, Barbados, Bernardo Aliaga, UNESCO/IOC, Paris, France, Alison Brome, Caribbean Tsunami Information Centre, St. Michael, Barbados, Rocky Lopes, National Weather Service Tsunami Program, Silver Spring, MD, United States and UNESCO IOC ICG CARIBE EWS Performance Based Recognition Programme Task Team
Over 75 tsunamis have been documented in the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions over the past 500 years with 4,561 associated deaths according to the NOAA Tsunami Database. The most recent devastating tsunamis occurred in 1946 in Dominican Republic; 1865 died. With the explosive increase in residents, tourists, infrastructure, and economic activity along the coasts, the potential for human and economic loss is enormous. It has been estimated that on any day, more than 500,000 people in the Caribbean could be in harm’s way just along the beaches, with hundreds of thousands more working and living in the tsunamis hazard zones. In 2005 the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission established the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami and other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (ICG CARIBE EWS) to coordinate tsunami efforts among the 48 participating countries in territories in the region.

In addition to monitoring, modeling and communication systems, one of the fundamental components of the warning system is community preparedness, readiness and resilience. Over the past 10 years 49 coastal communities in the Caribbean have been recognized as TsunamiReady® by the US National Weather Service (NWS) in the case of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands and jointly by UNESCO and NWS in the case of the non US jurisdictions of Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands. In response to the positive feedback of the implementation of TsunamiReady, the ICG CARIBE EWS in 2015 recommended the approval of the guidelines for a Community Performance Based Recognition program. It also recommended the adoption of the name “Tsunami Ready”, which has been positively consulted with the NWS. Ten requirements were established for recognition and are divided among Preparedness, Mitigation and Response elements which were adapted from the proposed new US TsunamiReady guidelines and align well with emergency management functions. Both a regional ICG CARIBE EWS and national/territorial “Tsunami Ready” boards will administer the recognition program. With the “Tsunami Ready” program, it will be possible for to better track the full implementation of tsunami warning system in the Caribbean and Adjacent regions. Member States and donor agencies have been invited to support pilot projects.