On 5 November 2019, in observance of the World Tsunami Awareness Day, the parish of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, Grenada was officially recognised Tsunami Ready under the Pilot Community Performance Based Tsunami Recognition Programme. The Programme is administered by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) through its Intergovernmental Coordinating Group for the Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (ICG/CARIBE-EWS). This is the second such recognition received by Grenada following that for the parish of St. Patrick on 20 September 2018.
As part of the IOC-led regional efforts to develop an end-to-end tsunami early warning system, the Government of Grenada has signalled its intention to undertake a phased approach to making their entire country Tsunami Ready by progressively fulfilling the programme’s guidelines at the parish level. The 5 November ceremony followed a verification site visit on 24 September 2019 by representatives of the IOC’s Caribbean Tsunami Information Centre (CTIC) as well as national and community organisations, which confirmed that all necessary requirements had been met by Carriacou and Petite Martinique. This recent nomination process was characterised by strong enthusiasm and ownership at the national and community levels resulting in recognition being achieved in a record time of less than five months. Technical support was provided by the US Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program and the CTIC. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the initiative.
The ICG/CARIBE EWS Tsunami Ready pilot project is modeled after the successful US Tsunami Ready program executed in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and an earlier joint Tsunami Ready project piloted jointly by the IOC-UNESCO and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). To date, over sixty communities have been recognised under these various mechanisms. Through the funding support of the European Union, USAID and self-funding by the Government of Barbados, an additional eight communities are earmarked for recognition by June 2020 and Anguilla is also advancing towards renewal of its status. Implementation support continues to be led by UNESCO/IOC-CTIC and the CTWP in conjunction with other regional partners.
The Tsunami Ready programme incorporates planning, education and awareness, with recognition being granted upon the satisfactory completion of a verification process confirming fulfilment of the guidelines. Specifically, tsunami inundation mapping was conducted taking into account both earthquake and Kick ’em Jenny volcano sources, which led to the preparation of the Tsunami Evacuation map for Carriacou and Petite Martinique and complemented with the installation of tsunami signage. The distribution of preparedness and outreach materials, execution of public awareness activities and tsunami exercises were also carried out in the Parish. A local Standard Operations Plan for tsunami was prepared for Carriacou and Petite Martinique based on a national plan and current tsunami services offered by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Local and National Tsunami Focal points and corresponding communication systems for receiving and disseminating alerts were also identified and stakeholders were trained.
Over the past 500 years, 75 tsunamis have killed 4,484 people according to NOAA’s Global Tsunami Database. Several other Caribbean Member States have indicated their interest in implementing the Tsunami Ready recognition programme, which is also being piloted across the other three regional tsunami early warning systems led by UNESCO/IOC – the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean and the North Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean and Connected Seas.
No community is tsunami proof, but initiatives such as Tsunami Ready can help increase preparedness and minimize loss.