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THE AL GILKES COLUMN: Be prepared for storms and quakes

Al Gilkes

THE AL GILKES COLUMN: Be prepared for storms and quakes

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Well, the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane season officially began two Saturdays ago with a warning to the region and beyond to be prepared for a very active season.
And before a week was done, out of the belly of the Gulf of Mexico came Andrea as the first tropical storm which wasted no time in drenching from Miami all the way up to New York, Boston and beyond with several inches of flooding rain.
Andrea’s impact on the United States came just days after hurricane forecasters, including Dr William Gray and Philip Klotzbach of the Colorado State University, had predicted as many as 18 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes would be experienced during the coming six-month period of the season.
Here at home, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency’s (CDEMA) executive director, Ronald Jackson, has also stressed that these predictions are well above the season averages so we must prepared for any eventuality.
But as frightening as the destructive possibility of any of these potential storms and hurricanes making landfall is for any of us living in this part of the world, this year I am equally as concerned, if not more, about a statement coming from a Dr Joan Latchman, the director of the Seismic Research Centre at the University of the West Indies (UWI). She states categorically that the Caribbean is currently a seismically active region.
What is the lady talking about? She is talking about earthquakes. And she is not predicting that the region could experience a “season” of earthquakes but stating that the region is already experiencing a “season” of earthquakes.
You only have to be reading, watching and listening to recent news from around the region to realize that hardly a day goes by without some island or islands being shaken by one of these unpredictable natural events. Fortunately, to date there has been none which has been of a major magnitude, with the result that little damage to property and no loss of life have resulted.
One with a magnitude of 4.0 rattled St Vincent and the Grenadines on Thursday night and the Trinidad-based Seismic Research Centre said that it was also felt in St Lucia.
A few weeks ago, a 5.3-magnitude quake caused moderate to strong shaking in St Kitts and Nevis and St Eustatius, and moderate shaking in St Maarten and Antigua. The earthquake was also felt as far south as Guadeloupe, which is just around the corner from Barbados and a stone’s throw from St Lucia.
I did some checking to determine how seriously threatened are our countries by potential earthquakes during what is expected to be a very active hurricane season, only to discover that the region has experienced more that 30 during the past seven days and as many as 80 during the past month.
This supports what I mentioned earlier about the Caribbean currently being a seismically active region, according to Dr Latchman. What I did not mention is that the director of the UWI’s Seismic Research Centre has also warned that a large-scale earthquake will hit the region and, in her words, “the question is when, not if”.
So be doubly prepared.
• Al Gilkes is head of a public relations firm.
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