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WAPA Joins VITEMA in Tsunami Exercise

(Thursday, March 17, 2016)

Employees of the Virgin Islands Water & Power Authority on Thursday participated in a territory-wide exercise of the V.I. government’s tsunami response plan. The test included an actual evacuation of work areas once VITEMA sounded sirens which, during an actual event, would signal the need to move to higher ground for persons within a two-mile limit of the coastline.

“At the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority emergency preparedness is a year-round practice,” according to Acting Chief Executive Officer Gregory Rhymer. “Due to the nature of our work, we test and retest our emergency preparedness levels on a regular basis. And while in the past, the focus was almost solely on hurricane preparedness, we are keenly aware of the threat of tsunamis and have adjusted our exercise protocol to include this natural disaster that could have a profound effect on our territory.”

Employees from the two power plants in Estate Richmond on St. Croix and Krum Bay St. Thomas as well as personnel from the administrative offices in Port of Sale and Al Cohen malls both evacuated to higher ground as part of the exercise. Rhymer said WAPA’s decision to be an active participant in the exercise was easy to reach. “Our two power plants literally sit on the coastlines and our Accounting and Administrative Offices on St. Thomas are exposed to the shoreline, the waters of Long Bay near the WICO cruise ship dock.”

Rhymer said 32 employees participated in the evacuation from the Havensight office locations; 61 at the St. Thomas power plant, Line Department and Water Division and 23 contract employees at the plant also took part. On St. Croix, 54 employees participated from the Line Department, power plant and Water Division as did 26 contract employees who were on site at the time of the drill.

He said the emergency planning efforts continue year round at WAPA to promote safety to the men and women of the utility so that in the event of an earthquake and tsunami emergency they would quickly and calmly seek higher ground to at least two miles from the coastline or at elevations higher than sea level.

Rhymer said WAPA looks forward to a continued working relationship with VITEMA and the entire emergency responder community in the Virgin Islands as together we better prepare our community for any man made or natural disaster that may impact us. “WAPA remains ready to weather the storm and be among the leaders of any response and recovery effort.”

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