As I mentioned, we have an elaborate emergency preparedness system. Within Global Affairs Canada, we have a 24-7 emergency watch and response centre that operates 365 days a year on a continual basis. It monitors for natural disasters that we can see coming, such as hurricanes that form and move, but also emerging news of disasters like earthquakes. We saw two earthquakes occur recently in Mexico, and there was no warning. We hear first through different meteorological or other seismic notification sites, so there are different kinds of disasters.
We prepare and exercise throughout the year. We have a highly specialized unit within our branch that deals with emergency management. They exercise on a whole-of-government basis working with Public Safety, CBSA, IRCC, DND, and all of the different partners with whom we work in a whole-of-government response. We have a well-exercised task force system that comes together almost immediately.
In the case of these storms, I would say that one of the important parts of our emergency preparedness is the advice that we give to Canadians before hurricane season starts. We do this in May and June, and we reach out through the travel industry and through our publications and digital footprint to talk to Canadians about the kinds of things that they need to do when travelling to these destinations. It's about registering. It's about having travel insurance. It's about having emergency points of contact and making sure people know where they are and when, and who they should go to—namely local authorities—for advice if they find themselves unable to depart before an event like this arrives. There's that whole front end of preparedness.
When these storms we're monitoring start to intensify, and the tracks, for example, start to focus on certain regions, our travel advisories kick in. We started on August 26 providing advisories on storms that were approaching, and beginning on the first of September, we started assembling our task force. We started meeting and having coordination calls to plan the response.
Part of the issue is that there's a high degree of uncertainty with regard to these storms. Where we think they're going doesn't necessarily end up being where they hit. Also there's some uncertainty as to who is present in the areas that are going to be the most affected.
I would say that it's a very well-exercised capacity that we have. Each storm is different, and that's why the lessons learned are so important. The Nepal earthquake was different from hurricane Matthew, and they were both different from this.
I would say that, in terms of the level of complexity, these storms were among the most complex situations that we've faced, given the tight sequence of three very intense storms hitting the same places, very isolated island chains that had limited physical and communications infrastructure.