people walking up a hill
Participants in the Caribe Wave 2019 tsunami drill in the Virgin Islands head uphill. (Photo: ZARRIN TASNIM AHMED)

Last Thursday, 2,012 people across Tortola participated in a regional tsunami and earthquake drill dubbed Caribe Wave 2019. The main point to remember: Head to high ground.

“This is part of preparing for life,” said Cecil Hodge, discipline principal of Elmore Stoutt High School, as students exited the temporary ESHS building in Pasea. “It’s important because we have to practise getting ready in case we have a real emergency.”

ESHS teachers and students headed up hill after hearing sirens and receiving texts that warned, “Exercise! Exercise! The territory has been issued a tsunami warning evacuation. Please move to higher ground!”

The signal was sent through CCT, Flow, Digicel, Facebook, the radio, and the Department of Disaster Management application.

Employees of the Financial Services Commission also took part, getting a workout in while they participated.

The annual regional exercise included 48 countries and territories throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. The effort was coordinated by six international organisations, and more than 800,000 people registered.

Participants saw an opportunity for improvement in the signs that would prepare residents for disasters. A tsunami warning sign along Sir Francis Drake Highway is currently lying on the ground,and no arrows point the direction that residents are supposed to evacuate.

Attempts to reach DDM officials were not successful.