World Tsunami Awareness Day marked

The Disaster Management Office through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment continues to raise awareness on tsunamis and community preparedness as the world marked World Tsunami Awareness Day yesterday. 

The Disaster Management Office, in a statement yesterday, emphasised the importance tsunami education, awareness and preparedness. 

“Therefore, the Disaster Management Office through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment strongly believes and takes into serious consideration the very essence and importance of continuous and effective tsunami education, awareness and preparedness that contributes very much in saving lives of our families and communities via government, non-government bodies and development partners,” the Office stated. 

“Tsunamis although they happen, rarely do they exist with impacts that are deadly and consequences that are inescapable, overwhelming and depressing in the sense that not only they pose devastating physical threats, but do so significantly on people, socially, economically and psychologically.”

Continuous awareness will save lives of families and communities according to the Disaster Management Office, when done in partnership with non-government organisations and development partners. 

“Owing to its geographic location that’s within the vicinity of the Tongan trench, the source of local tsunamis, Samoa with 70 per cent of its populations settling and residing in low lying tsunami hazardous coastal areas, remain very vulnerable to tsunami hazards.” 

The Disaster Management Office said Samoa is also vulnerable to distant tsunamis as it sits within the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is an active area of volcanic and seismic activity.

Similar to all natural disasters, tsunamis threaten vulnerable groups such as women, children, persons with disabilities and the elderly as reported in 2009, when an 8.1 magnitude submarine earthquake occurred along the Tongan trench subduction zone in the Samoan Islands region. 

This is all the more reason to execute and implement the tsunami education and awareness programmes as much as possible across the nation, added the the Disaster Management Office. 

“This is believed to be the most effective medium to ensure that Samoa communities be well informed, ready and always prepared in response to such deadly and plausible tsunami threats. 

“Tsunamis are unavoidable, but we could reduce the potential risks on people and properties if we are well informed and be able to anticipate such disasters and threats and be informed of safety and protection procedures to follow,” added the Disaster Management Office

Through the community-tsunami preparedness activities in progress (C.D.C.R.M.), which is currently being executed and delivered to the Samoan communities, the Government envisages that it has to be a very ideal, effective and efficient programme to enhance preparedness of Samoa’s communities in the event of any disaster including tsunamis. 

The Disaster Management Office, on behalf of the Government, coordinates and takes the leading role in the execution of the programme and coordination of all response agencies to include Police, F.E.S.A., M.O.H., M.W.C.S.D., N.O.L.A., Red Cross, the Samoa Meteorology Division and A.D.R.A. as one of the key implementing agencies. 

The Disaster Management Office said the support of these respective agencies remains a profound and important aspect of the programme, as these agencies will help train village response teams on their roles and responsibilities should any tsunami for instance, happens. It informs communities, builds capacity and raises awareness on tsunami preparedness. 

The last component of the programme includes an operational simulation exercise that tests the roles and responsibilities of village response teams, based on the trainings and skills they were trained on. 

Communities are shown their evacuation routes towards safe evacuation areas and warning measures and methods to evacuate. According to the Disaster Management Office, this will enhance the knowledge and understanding of communities on their overall role as the first line of response before the Government and first responders step in, so they could utilize their own resources and capabilities to respond. 

The C.D.C.R.M. then allows communities to establish and develop their own Village Disaster Plans that are eventually activated in the event of a disaster including tsunamis.

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