Virgin Islanders, Residents and Visitors
I am certain you are all following the progress of Hurricane Irma which is an extremely dangerous category 5 Hurricane.
By now, your hurricane preparations should have been completed as weather conditions are expected to deteriorate from tonight and Irma will pass over the Territory on Wednesday, September 6.
The Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Services has now placed the Territory under a flash flood watch which is expected to increase tonight to a warning.
In light of these predictions, I strongly urge each and every one of you to stay indoors as conditions can escalate very quickly and without warning.
As of 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, September 5th, maximum sustained winds were at 185 miles per hour and Irma was located near latitude 17. 2 degrees North, longitude 60.5 degrees West. Irma is moving westward at 15 miles per hour.
The current coordinates take the centre of Hurricane Irma between Tortola and Virgin Gorda.
Information coming from some of the northern Leeward Islands are that Irma has already started to cause heavy rains and strong winds in those areas.
As the system continues to move into our area it is expected to cause destructive storm surge conditions in low lying and coastal communities and significantly heavy rainfall amounts which can cause flash flooding and landslides. The intensity of the winds also has the potential to cause significant damage during Irma’s passage. Lightning conditions are also expected and are extremely dangerous.
At some point during the hurricane’s passage, conditions may seem to calm down. Should this happen you must remain indoors and await the ‘all clear’ as hurricane conditions can potentially increase suddenly. The most important thing is to protect your life.
The ‘all clear’ will be issued by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC). Please stay inside and off the roads even after the all clear has been issued as emergency vehicles will need to have access to affected areas.
Nine Emergency Shelters were opened today to provide safe refuge for individuals in need of temporary accommodation. Currently, 56 individuals have checked into these facilities there is still space available but persons must make that decision immediately as it will soon not be safe to go out. Emergency responders will not be able to reach you during the Hurricane impact as it may not be safe for them to do so.
You have a very small amount of time now to get yourself to a safe location where you can stay indoors. If you are not seeking emergency shelter you should remain indoors.
As we continue into the night, please monitor the progress of this hurricane.
The NEOC will continue to provide updates into the night.
To all in the Virgin Islands, our message now is to stay indoors in a safe location.
May God bless and protect you and the Territory.