The Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) continues to enhance the USVI Tsunami Readiness Program with upgrades and expansion to the All Hazards Siren Warning System.
This week, VITEMA began the installation of 20 additional outdoor sirens across the territory, including Water Island. This is part of an ongoing effort to improve early warning capabilities for short notice events such as a local or regional tsunami.
VITEMA Director Mona Barnes said, “This brings the total number of sirens to 44, and the system now includes Water Island where two sirens will be installed.”
The siren installation project is slated to be complete by August 2017 and is funded through a $1,021,115 National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program grant provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the USVI Tsunami Readiness Program. The total cost of the new siren installation project is $682,609.
The installation began this week on St. Croix; it will continue on St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island. Technicians completing the installation will also conduct a sound test of each siren as it is erected. The test should last less than a minute and will feature a 10-second chime followed by a pre-recorded ‘test’ message.
New sirens are being installed at the following locations:
St. Croix — Arthur A. Richards Junior High School, Cotton Valley, La Grande Princesse at the former Elena Christian Junior High School, Golden Rock at the John F. Kennedy Housing Community, and Southgate on the east end of the island. Two additional sites will be chosen in the next few weeks.
St. Thomas — Bolongo Bay, Bordeaux, Compass Point Marina, Hull Bay, Oceana Restaurant, Pilgrim’s Terrace
St. John — Calabash, Frank Bay, Hansen Bay, Rock Ridge Road, Francis Bay
Water Island — Catchment Hill, Crown Bay
In addition to the installation of new sirens, VITEMA will also upgrade the entire system to include pre-recorded alert messages in Spanish and French.
“One of our major concerns in delivering emergency messages is that the we have a number of people who do not speak English and will not understand the alert. If they do understand the alert then they may not react as quickly as they should,” Barnes said. “This is an important step in addressing the non-English speaking population during a major emergency.”
In 2014, the U.S.V.I. was granted Tsunami-Ready status by NOAA –National Weather Service.