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VITEMA Issues Tips as Nearby Earthquakes Continue

VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen (VITEMA photo)

As nearby earthquakes continue to impact Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands remain on alert. At 9 a.m. on Saturday, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake occurred off the southwest coast of Puerto Rico causing further damages to the island’s infrastructure. There are currently no tsunami watches or warnings issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico.

“Our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico continue to be devastated by earthquakes,” said Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) Director Daryl Jaschen. “The U.S. Virgin Islands stands in solidarity with Puerto Rico and continue to keep the island in our thoughts and prayers,” said Jaschen.

“Residents are advised to stay informed and continue to assess your preparedness to quickly respond should a major earthquake impact the territory. If we all do something today to prepare for these threats, we will be in a better position to recover and preserve life and property in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The team at VITEMA remains ready to respond should the territory become impacted,” he said.

VITEMA continues to provide residents with real-time alerts and updates. Emergency preparedness and response information is provided on Alert VI, the Agency’s website www.vitema.vi.gov, on Facebook at “VITEMA,” Instagram at “vitema usvi” and on Twitter at “readyusvi.” Earthquake preparedness and response information is provided to local radio stations and the local media on an ongoing basis.

On Thursday, Jan. 9, VITEMA met with territorial first responder partners, including island administrators, Department of Public Works, Department of Human Services, Department of Education, Office of Collective Bargaining, V.I. Fire Service, V.I. Police Department and the project director Dr. Roy Watlington Ph.D. of the Ocean and Coastal Observing – Virgin Islands to discuss earthquake and tsunami preparation and response for the territory.

Earthquakes can happen without warning and result in injuries and damages to property and infrastructure. Now is the best time to prepare for any disaster, before it happens. Disasters do not plan ahead, but people can. VITEMA is issuing the following tips:

– Secure heavy items in your home like bookcases, refrigerators, televisions and objects that hang on walls. Store heavy and breakable objects on low shelves.

– Create a family emergency communication plan and ensure everyone in your household knows where to meet if you get separated. Share emergency plans with your neighbors and combine plans whenever possible.

– Stay informed of emergencies impacting the territory by registering for Alert VI at www.vitema.vi.gov today.

– Practice “drop, cover and hold on” earthquake response procedures with all family members, i.e.:

Drop: Drop wherever you are on to your hands and knees. If you’re using a wheelchair or walker with a seat, make sure your wheels are locked and remain seated until the shaking stops.

Cover: Cover your head and neck with your arms. If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter.

Hold on: If you are under a table or desk, hold on with one hand and be ready to move with it if it moves.

– Prepare a supply kit that includes enough food and water for at least 10 days. Consider each person’s specific needs, including medication. Store critical documents in a watertight container. Have extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment. Do not forget the needs of pets.

– Consider obtaining an earthquake insurance policy. A standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover earthquake damage.

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