The coastal town of Port Maria in St Mary is to become the second tsunami-ready town in Jamaica after Old Harbour in St Catherine.
This is being achieved with the support of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, and UNESCO.
The announcement was made by the Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, during his recent contribution to the Sectoral Debate. He said the designation was timely especially since Port Maria was the scene of flooding as recently as January of this year.
The local government minister said that with Jamaica being a small island developing state, the protection of people in coastal areas from tsunamis is of great importance.
In this regard, he noted that the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, in partnership with the Intergovernmental Coordination Group, a subsidiary of UNESCO, and the International Tsunami Information Centre for the Caribbean, have collaborated to strengthen early warning and response mechanisms.
“As a result, tsunami plans, templates and standard operating procedures were developed, including a tsunami response plan and standard operating procedures for the vulnerable community of Old Harbour Bay in St Catherine,” McKenzie said.
“As part of this important partnership, ODPEM is also implementing a Tsunami Readiness Pilot Recognition Technical programme (which) is designed to ensure that recognised communities possess the tools, operational procedures, knowledge and skills to effectively respond if a tsunami occurs,” he added.
He shared that communities that are recognised under the programme must be retrained every four years and must demonstrate adequate maintenance of their systems.