…east coast residents want to be prepared

A wave of fear swept across Trinidad’s east coast on Tuesday evening after social media began sharing a tsunami warning, triggered by the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that shook the island less than an hour before.

It turned out the warning was bogus, written and posted by an unknown person then shared by thousands of people terrified by the quake, and what it could mean if monster waves came ashore along the coastline where thousands live.

Some residents who panicked over the false alarm spread on social media criticised the authorities for not making the public aware of the situation sooner.

A similar concern happened along Trinidad’s east coast in 2004 as a result of the Indian Ocean 9.1 magnitude earthquake that triggered tsunami that killed an estimated 280,000 in 14 countries.

President of the Guayaguayare/Ortoire/Maryaro Fishing Association Francis Arjoon said on Wednesday afternoon that he was yet to hear from the Office of Disaster Preparedness Management (ODPM).

The ODPM did issue a disclaimer on social media on Tuesday night, denying any tsunami warning.
Arjoon said that he was listening to the newscast about the earthquake and was told by a relative of a possible tsunami. He said he panicked over the news and was uncertain what to do.

“It was night and I got the call that there might be a tsunami. I live about 200 feet from the Mayaro beach and we didn’t hear anything about it. I was watching the news to hear if they would say anything about that but I didn’t. this is something serious. We never got anyone from the ODPM doing any kind of drills or talks with us about safety. Right now the sea is rough and it is very windy. What I am saying is that they (the authorities) need to inform the public as soon as something happens so we know,” said Arjoon.
Stupid people causing panic

Chief executive officer Dr Stephen Ramroop said that that false information which was being spread created the unnecessary panic and that the people should rely on the relevant governmental agencies to share the information.

He said: “the statement was not an ODPM statement. This was intended by people who really don’t have much to do with their time but to cause panic to people in the nation. The only people to give tsunami warnings is the government agencies in particular the ODPM on the advice of the pacific tsunami warning centre”.

Asked about the panic coast caused by the fraudulent tsunami alert that purportedly came from the ODPM, Ramroop said: “Why would we (the ODPM) give a communication when the media is on the radio and television telling you please heed the authorities, there’s no tsunami. What else do the people want? Do they want me to come down and say did you pack your disaster bags? Do you know where your shelter is? Could you go out to the coast and see the water receding and you better run to a very high spot? Is that what you want me to go and tell them? What you have to understand is that there is a system of communication”.

Need for Tsunami drills

However, vice president of the Rio Claro Chamber of Commerce Nigel Ramnasibsingh said that there has been no recent drill sessions with the people of the community.
He said: “As far as I can recall the ODPM has had no community programmes or sessions with the public. This has hit home and everyone needs to take heed and prepare themselves and especially not to panic.”

Ramnasibsingh said that the Chamber has contact information for various organisations to assist the people in the event of a natural disaster, however, “these things are not planned and can’t be predicted.”

He said that he spoke to an official at the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation disaster management unit who said that there were no reports of structural damage or human injury.

“It was more of a scare or shock to the people of our community. We hope that this is a wakeup call for everyone in Trinidad and that the ODPM will continue to educate and engage the community as to what needs to be done in case of a disaster,” said Ramnasibsingh.
On Tuesday night, Mayaro Member of Parliament Rushton Paray utilised social media to inform the public that the country was not under any tsunami watch.

2 thoughts on “TSUNAMI WARNING FOR T&T

  1. contacted a few friends in T&T and they said it was not as bad as outside media making it seem. I even heard on Irie that there were a few casualties. They denied those claims though so thank God no one was injured or hurt.

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