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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Preparing for the unpredictable

As a part of municipal strategies to manage tsunami response in Puerto Rico’s coastal regions, Canóvanas Mayor Lornna Soto Villanueva has called on community leaders and heads of municipal dependencies to collaborate on strengthening preparedness given the possibility of a tsunami event, which could impact the town through its rivers. (Photo courtesy of Ricardo Franco)

By The Star Staff

Natural disasters happen all around the globe, and Puerto Rico is no stranger to such events. Hurricanes are quite common as they can and do develop every season, sometimes finding their way to the island. Earthquakes can also be rather common because of Puerto Rico’s position near the edge of a tectonic plate, although less so than hurricanes and, of course, much more unpredictable.

Another aspect of earthquakes’ unpredictability is that they can also lead to tsunamis. Although their occurrence is not as common as in some other places in the world, Puerto Rico has suffered from two tsunamis on its coasts in recorded history.

That being said, preparation is always a good thing as one never knows when an earthquake is going to occur, or if that earthquake is going to cause a destructive tsunami.

In light of this, as a part of municipal strategies to manage tsunamis in the island’s coastal regions, and their potential effects on the municipality of Canóvanas, which could impact the town through the rivers, Mayor Lornna Soto Villanueva announced late last week that she has called on community leaders and leaders of municipal dependencies to strengthen the preparation and response of the community given the possibility of a tsunami occurring, and its potential overall effect on the northeastern municipality. The call was made in collaboration with the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration as part of the TsunamiReady program.

“The TsunamiReady program’s main objective is to reduce the risk of disasters created from tsunamis in communities located in coastal and adjacent areas,” Soto Villanueva said. “This initiative is centered on empowering the communities, municipalities and emergency management officials to strengthen their local operations through preparation of action plans, given the possible event of a tsunami, and proportionate education to the exposed community.”

Canóvanas’ Municipal Emergency Management Director Hommy Vázquez noted that “during recent months, the personnel of the Puerto Rico Seismic Network, the Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration, the National Weather Service and the Municipality of Canóvanas have been working tirelessly on the review and improvement of the Tsunami Emergency Response Plan to recertify us.”

“Recognizing the critical importance of an efficient and coordinated response, collaboration between these entities has been essential to guarantee the safety of our community,” he said. Soto Villanueva added: “I appreciate and value this joint effort to strengthen participation in possible emergency situations and improve our response and recovery capacity, in order to have a safer and more resilient future for our people.”

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