Tsunami preparedness meetings to be held across Virgin Islands

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The V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency will host a series of meetings territorywide to present new information on the agency's tsunami preparedness efforts and talk with residents about tsunami readiness.

The first meeting will be on St. John, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 6 at the Julius E. Sprauve School. Topics will include tsunami hazards, tsunami warning, evacuation maps, evacuation routes and signs and assembly points.

VITEMA also will host meetings at Frenchtown and Red Hook on St. Thomas and in downtown Frederiksted and Gallows Bay on St. Croix in June and July. The dates and venues for those meetings will be announced in upcoming weeks.

Presenters at St. John's meeting include Roy Watlington, a St. Thomas native and scientist, who retired from the University of the Virgin Islands after serving 27 years as a tenured professor of physics. In 1997, he convened a meeting of global tsunami experts who, over the years, has advanced tsunami hazard awareness in the Caribbean.

Also presenting at the St. John meeting will be Irvin Mason, VITEMA training coordinator and certified tsunami awareness instructor, and Joseph Hodge, VITEMA Emergency Operations Center manager for St. Thomas.

"VITEMA has made major strides in tsunami readiness with the placement of more than 100 tsunami hazard zone and evacuation signs along coastline areas, the installation of an outdoor siren warning system and the development of the first Virgin Islands Tsunami Evacuation Maps," VITEMA Director Elton Lewis said in a prepared statement.

"Our main objective now is public outreach to ensure everyone has the information they need to be ready in the event of a tsunami - especially those who live and work in a coastal community," Lewis said.

For more information about the St. John tsunami awareness meeting, contact Linda Williams at 776-2244 or by e-mail to linda.williams@vitema.vi.gov.

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