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QUAKE: Haiti in Jamaica

Published:Friday | January 13, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Chris Hind (left), general manager, NEM Insurance Co Jamaica Ltd, discusses flight plans with Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee, director of Mona GeoInformatics, prior to a helicopter flight over eastern Jamaica earlier this year. They were involved in the filming of the earthquake documentary 'QUAKE: Haiti in Jamaica', which was facilitated by the Air Wing of the Jamaica Defence Force. - CONTRIBUTED
EARTHQUAKE AWARENESS Week started on Sunday, January 8 and two days later, a documentary, QUAKE: Haiti in Jamaica, was premiered, dealing with the implications for Jamaica being affected by an earthquake similar to the one which struck Haiti on January 12, 2010.

QUAKE: Haiti in Jamaica tells the story of what happened when the 7.0 magnitude Haiti earthquake struck, and how Jamaica would cope with such an event, said producer Bob Harris. This is of major significance since, had the earthquake occurred just a few kilometres to the west, the impact would have been experienced in Jamaica instead of Haiti.

"Our goal in producing QUAKE: Haiti in Jamaica is to highlight the vulnerability of Jamaica to the threat of a major earthquake," Harris said. "While structures in Jamaica are more soundly built than those in Haiti, there is great risk to property and life because people have chosen unwise locations on which to build."

Shared fault zone

Tapping the expertise of Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee, director of Mona GeoInformatics, and Dr Lyndon Brown, head of the Earthquake Unit at The University of the West Indies, the documentary examines how an earthquake emanating a few kilometres west along the same fault as that of January 12, 2010, might impact Jamaica.

"The disaster in Haiti occurred along the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone which runs through the Plantain Garden River basin in Jamaica, through Haiti and into the Dominican Republic," Dr Lyew-Ayee said.

The insurance industry plays a critical role in funding the recovery process after a major catastrophe, and NEM Insurance Co Jamaica Ltd general manager, Chris Hind, explains how this is achieved and the latest developments in ensuring accurate risk assessments.

"We want Jamaicans and the wider Caribbean community to be informed about what took place in Haiti and its implications for the region," Hind stated. He pointed out that NEM Insurance provided backing for QUAKE: Haiti in Jamaica, as earthquakes are a fact of life for the nationals of the Caribbean Basin, so we need to learn how to mitigate their impact.

A detachment from the Jamaica Defence Force was among the first responders to the Haiti event. Members of the team share their experiences as they witnessed the immediate aftermath and aided in the recovery process. Uncensored earthquake video footage is used to illustrate what happens at the zero hour of a major earthquake.

Ronald Jackson, director general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, discusses the effectiveness of Jamaica's emergency management system to deal with such an event. Pointing to the challenges in the global economy and the string of major natural disasters over the past two years, he gives a sobering assessment of the likely flow of aid to the island in the event of a catastrophic earthquake occurring in the near future.