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(VIRGIN ISLANDS NEWS ONLINE) – With daily earthquakes in the Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands region, some of which have been felt in the [British] Virgin Islands, the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) has been monitoring the situation closely while urging the public to have their emergency plans in place, including in the event of a tsunami.
Further, DDM has been going to schools and places of work to educate persons on what to do, and not do, in the event of an earthquake or tsunami.
“I’d say we continue to monitor the seismic activity in the region very closely. Of course DDM is always on alert for all kinds of hazards,” DDM’s Information and Education Manager, Chrystall Kanyuck-Abel told Virgin Islands News Online.
Meanwhile, persons have been reaching out to DDM to assist with information and demonstrations on how to stay safe in the event of an earthquake or tsunami.
Students of the Leonora Delville Primary School in Cappoons Bay, members of the youth group, M.A.L.E. and staff of Aeropost are some of the people who have benefit from outreaches by DDM.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1), in a statement on January 7, 2020, urged persons to be ready for the possibility of an earthquake and to reach out to the DDM, “through the various communication channels and find out what it takes for you to be ready. DDM on behalf of the Government is monitoring things closely.”
He had also said the Territory has a long-standing relationship with the Puerto Rico Seismic Network and the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez and will continue to depend on them to design, implement and monitor the local earthquake network and issue the necessary advisories, watches or warnings for the Territory.
VI vulnerable to earthquakes
DDM, via its Facebook page and website, continues to remind the VI community that the VI is located in a seismically active zone, which makes the Territory vulnerable to earthquakes.
“During an earthquake it is important to stay calm, if you are inside stay there, move away from ceiling fans, glass windows and doors or anything that may fall. Get under a desk or sturdy piece of furniture cover your head and hold on. If outdoors, move into an open area away from trees, building, or utility wires and poles.
“During an earthquake the more you move the more likely you are to be hurt, so refrain from entering or exiting a building at the time of the impact,” DDM has repeatedly stated.
Situation in Puerto Rico
Meanwhile, the situation continues to get chaotic in Puerto Rico with many persons left homeless after their homes were destroyed by the series of earthquakes that started in December 2019.
Thousands are said to be living in tents in open spaces as they are too terrified to enter their homes.
Authorities also say there are countless buildings and houses that may have sustained damage that is not visible during the nearly three weeks of daily tremors and aftershocks that have happened in Ponce and towns located on the island’s southern coast.
And, according to CNN, the work of detecting the damage in Ponce, Guánica, Guayanilla and Yauco is only beginning.
It’s another great challenge for Puerto Rico, a US territory that has yet to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which killed nearly 3,000 in September 2017.
Buildings that had been damaged by the hurricanes simply collapsed or were left in worse shape by the earthquakes and aftershocks. The same happened to other infrastructure, such as roads and bridges.
There are currently 30 shelters on Puerto Rico’s southern coast, holding 8,023 people who were affected by the earthquakes.
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