Virgin Islanders have become experts at hurricane preparations.
Tsunamis are another matter.
And considering the last major tsunami was in the 1800s, we kind of ignore the possibility of another one happening.
V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency experts say it’s critical that all waterfront businesses and people have a working, updated evacuation plan in the event of a tsunami.
While the V.I. has warning sirens that hopefully will go off in the event of a tsunami, we can’t depend on the possibility that the preceding earthquake may damage the sirens. So, in the event of large earthquakes and a tsunami, our feet need to run. That means running — immediately — to higher ground.
VITEMA recommends that each waterfront business have an established system of fast evacuation and a safe meeting place on this higher ground.
However, we have a building on St. Thomas that is full of vulnerable, elderly, disabled people that are going to need the community’s help in the event we all need to run uphill.
Lucinda Millin Home, staffed mainly with women caregivers, would be overwhelmed and understaffed in the event of an evacuation that would need to happen within minutes.
Their plan is going to require a village to get all their residents to higher ground. And getting this plan established, and ready to go is a must. A VITEMA expert recently suggested that working with agreed-upon volunteers near Lucinda Millin Home was critical. But this plan would need to be formulated by the home, and entails having designated people nearby who would come quickly and get those residents out.
No matter what, a workable plan needs to established.
Looking out for our most vulnerable in advance is the responsibility of us all.
We don’t want to ever be in a position where we said we could have, or we should have.
— Maria Ferreras is a longtime St. Thomas resident and community volunteer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.