(ZIZ)– It was a busy morning for the National Emergency Management Agency and other stakeholders as they held a table top exercise that simulated a tsunami strike.
For much of the morning officials from various sectors tested how their agencies would respond to a tsunami warning.
It’s part of a regional exercise to assist in tsunami readiness and similar events had been taking place at the same time in various islands.
Exercise planner Ivor Blake said overall the event was successful…and he was particular pleased with how participating schools responded.
“Both schools were able to evacuate all of the students and teachers out of the school in good time and that to me is one of the successes of that and for the persons represented in the room to recognize that the schools are already ahead of them in their planning and they did an evacuation, I think that was a big plus for them,” he said.
One of the key points was communication…getting the warnings to the general public as quickly as possible.
NEMA’s Disaster Coordinator Carl Herbert said the exercise brought up the question of how to get information to the public if a tsunami strikes in the middle of the night.
He said “It has brought out the need for an early warning system, or a system that will alert the public especially when radio stations are not operational especially sleep time.”
But communication and evacuation are only part of the bigger picture. Herbert says they need to look what happens to the food supply after a tsunami hits.
“Our supermarkets etc are on the coast and should there be a tsunami they’d be impacted…the question is ‘where do we turn to?’ Possibly the need for us to consider placing certain facilities more at higher ground,” he said.
The exercise is only the beginning of a larger, more comprehensive process. Officials say there are other specific matters to be addressed so the participants need to go back to their agencies and put a tsunami response plan into place so that in the case of a disaster they’ll know exactly what to do.