Quake And Cyclone Add To Widespread Anxiety


As if Covid was not enough trouble, within the last week the Territory has faced the threat of a cyclone system (Isaias) and an earthquake and His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert under whose portfolio Disaster Management falls stated that these are indications that the Territory does not only need to prepare for hurricanes but earthquakes as well. 

In the early hours of 26 July, the Territory was alarmed by earthquake tremors which seemed to have become more a more frequent and unsettling occurrence. His Excellency addressed the public on the very day. In his message the Governor noted that the final report from Territory’s partners at the Puerto Rico Seismic Network indicates that the centre of the earthquake was approximately 32 kilometres north of Road Town, or approximately 20 miles away. Further, the Governor noted that the strongest tremors were experienced by persons on the island of Virgin Gorda. 

While calling for earthquake preparation as well as the usual hurricane kit, the Queen’s Representative reminded residents of the precautions that should be taken in case of an earthquake. “This morning’s earthquake serves as a reminder that we are living in a region that is prone to seismic activity such as earthquakes. I would take the opportunity to remind all in our community that the safest thing to do during an earthquake is to drop, cover, and hold on until the shaking stops. I understand that at the moment it may difficult to remain calm, which is why it is important that we all practice dropping low to the ground and away from windows and exterior walls, covering under a sturdy surface if possible, and holding onto our shelter until the shaking stops at each and every earthquake. If evacuation is necessary, such as in the case of a tsunami advisory, persons should move to their designated safe zone only after the shaking stops,” he said. 

As it relates to hurricane readiness Governor Jaspert said, “I would further encourage all residents to ensure that they have completed any seasonal preparedness activities around the home, such as restocking emergency kits, having a shelter in place, supplies on hand, and inspecting their property to identify any outstanding clearing or maintenance that should be carried out urgently.” 

Tropical Storm Watch 

The earthquake tremors were felt on Sunday and by Wednesday this week business offices and the airports were closed as the Territory was placed under Tropical Storm Warning. 

The warning was placed because Potential Tropical Cyclone 9 Isaias was expected to pass over or very close to the Territory on Wednesday afternoon bringing with it winds of 40-60 miles per hour and some 3-to-6-inches of rain. This forecast proved to be accurate. 

In his message to the Territory, on 29 July, Premier Hon. Andrew Fahie announced, “We must remain in a state of readiness. We want you to stay safe. Also, as a people let us continue to go forward with vigilance in the midst of COVID-19.”