Landslide is the term used to describe the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope. This type of movement is typically the result of several factors, including significant changes in groundwater levels or heavy rainfall, earthquakes, volcanic activity, disturbance by human activities or any combination of these factors. Landslides can have significant effects on the surrounding area such as damage to property, roads, waterways or communication lines above or below the landslide as well as flooding and injuries which could result in deaths of animals and people.
Preparing for a Landslide
It’s important to be ready for a landslide so you’re not caught unprepared. Some of the most important things you can do to prepare are:
- Know if your property is at risk – settlements built on steep slopes, cliff tops or on softer soils are at higher risk. Locations at the base of steep slopes, or on mouths of streams from mountain valleys are also at risk.
- Be aware of your surroundings – periods of heavy rain, an earthquake, brush fire or other similar events on and around steep slopes can trigger landslides such as mudslides and fallen rocks that are very frequent occurrences in Dominica. Be aware if these elements are present near your home so you can seek safer ground if a landslide is likely to occur.
- Stay connected – notify local authorities if any type of landslide such as mudslide and or rock fall appears likely in your area.
- Make plans – make sure you have a well-prepared personal evacuation and participate in the local community processes for planning, preparedness, hazard mapping, evacuation planning and search and rescue.
During a Landslide
If a landslide is occurring, you need to know the hazards you face and how to minimize those dangers. Some of the most important things you can do are:
- Make sure you’re in a safe place – if you are in a location vulnerable to a landslide seek safe ground early.
- Be aware of your surroundings – listen and obey official instructions and advisories from local authorities and stay away from affected and other vulnerable areas. Don’t attempt to enter, cross or clear debris during the slide.
After a Landslide
- Pay close attention – listen to local radio stations and obey advisories and official instructions given by local authorities.
- Stay safe – Do not enter into declared danger zones identified by local authorities and don’t attempt to enter, cross or clear debris from your location immediately after the slide. Stay out of damaged buildings and return home only when authorities say it’s safe.
- Get help if needed – seek necessary medical care at health centres or hospital
- Help out – assist your neighbours and notify relevant authorities search and rescue personnel. Share information and eyewitness accounts of your area where possible.