(Antigua Observer)Funds are being made available for the purchase of the “hazard early warning system” to help authorities here detect early signs of flooding, tsunami and other natural disasters to which Antigua and Barbuda is prone.
Philmore Mullin, director of the National Office of Disaster Services, (NODS) said talks surrounding the procurement of the system commenced a year ago, and are now at an advanced stage.
“The regional Red Cross, through the local Red Cross, is facilitating Antigua and Barbuda to procure the system. We have been notified that the funds are available,” Mullin said.
He said the hazard system would help NODS to inform residents, especially those living in vulnerable areas, about an impending disaster.
The early warning system will also involve the establishment of a multi-hazard information centre for forecasting and early warning, which combines information derived from multiple ground and satellite sources, and provides reliable information on upcoming extreme weather events and their potential impact on the island.
“All of this should be completed between now and the first quarter of next year, and it will probably cost us somewhere in the region of U.S. $15,000 to U.S. $20,000,” Mullin said.
Mullin said the system would have a two-trigger mechanism – one stationed at the Antigua Meteorological Office and the other at NODS headquarters.
Staff at both departments will be trained in how to operate the system while the public would be educated on the expectations when the system is brought onstream.
A similar system was introduced in St Lucia last year.
Mullin’s comments come just after the world paused on Sunday for the observance of World Tsunami Day, which is aimed at promoting a global culture of tsunami awareness.
The director of NODS said Antigua and Barbuda is vulnerable to tsunamis as we are near many fault lines across the region and these fault lines sometimes generate earthquakes which are shallow and these are usually the ones that create tsunamis.
According to him, the records show that the country has experienced as many as 24 tsunamis over the years and as such it is important for residents to continue to access the information and understand their unique and individual vulnerability as it relates to where they live and work.
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