The Cayman Islands will join a Caribbean-wide tsunami exercise, called Caribe Wave, on Tuesday, March 21, when every cellphone owner in Cayman will receive an “emergency” text message.
McCleary Frederick, director of Hazard Management Cayman Islands, said the exercise is meant to evaluate local tsunami response plans, increase preparedness and improve coordination throughout the region.
“The exercise will simulate a widespread Tsunami Warning and Watch situation throughout the Caribbean, which requires implementation of local tsunami response plans,” he said in a press release.
The exercise will simulate a major 8.2 magnitude earthquake off the southeast coast of Cuba, which then generates a 9-foot-high tsunami wave that impacts the Sister Islands in 29 minutes and Grand Cayman in 45 minutes.
All customers of Flow and Digicel will receive a text message at 9:10 a.m. on March 21. It will read: “MESSAGE ALERT: This is a test of the Emergency Notification System for the 2017 Tsunami Exercise. THIS IS ONLY A TEST.”
The Disaster Preparedness and Hazard Management Law 2016 requires the establishment of an Emergency Notification System to distribute “critical and sometimes lifesaving information to residents and visitors in a timely manner.”
Mr. Frederick said, “The ability to issue early warnings or other emergency messages not only through mobile devices but with local radio and television stations would be a positive development in the way the public is notified.
“We hope to get a sense of how effectively we can do that in the upcoming tsunami exercise.”
The public notification via text message “will test the ability to provide emergency messages to residents and visitors and help identify operational strengths and weaknesses in the Cayman Islands,” he added.
Mr. Frederick said establishing a fully functioning and effective Emergency Notification System will take time, “but we are committed to seeing the process through.” Once the exercise is complete, a final text will follow with a survey link.