Press Release

Department of Disaster Management
Premier's Office
Ministry of Finance
Release Date:
Tuesday, 24 July 2018 - 4:43pm

Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE has signed an agreement with Virella Crespo & Associates for the design of the new National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) which will also house the offices of the Department of Disaster Management (DDM).  

Premier Smith signed the contract today, Tuesday, July 24, to the tune of four hundred sixty-eight thousand, six hundred seventy-one dollars and fifty cents ($468,671.50) on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands while Dr. Juan C. Virella Crespo signed on behalf of the Virella Crespo & Associates.

The Premier said following the passage of Hurricane Irma, the NEOC building was significantly damaged and the staff of the Department of Disaster Management had to be relocated to a temporary facility.

He added that given the critical functions performed by the NEOC and the DDM, it was imperative for the Government to allocate a portion of the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) towards reconstruction of the facility.

The Premier said, “This construction is part of the Government’s mission to ensure that the critical services are fully restored and systems are in place to support continuity of government operations.  The Territory’s disaster management programme is an essential part of our recovery efforts and future sustainable development of these Virgin Islands.”

He further added that the facility will be designed and constructed to meet international standards that promote SMART functionality and is able to withstand the impacts of hazards that can affect the Territory.

Virella Crespo & Associates, from Puerto Rico, will provide consultancy and architectural, engineering, project management and contract administration services. The design company will take into consideration the risks, vulnerabilities and capabilities of the Territory.  A key element of the contract is the transfer of knowledge and skills to local building professionals.  Dr Virella will therefore be working closely with local government and the private sector on this project.

The new facility will be built to Safe and Green standards to maximise its potential for reducing operational expenditures with water and energy management improvements, and ensure energy auto-sufficiency to support continuity of operations and delivery of critical services in the event of a major disaster.

The multi-disciplinary team, led by Dr. Juan C. Virella Crespo, encompasses structural and civil engineers, surveyors, draftsmen, architects; electrical, mechanical and environmental engineers; and a LEED Compliance Expert.

Dr. Virella, who was a former lecturer at the University of Puerto Rico Mayaquez, has had a long association with the government since the early 1990s, providing technical assistance in seismic assessment of structures, the development of the Quantitative Risk Assessment Project (QRAP) and was recently in the Territory in August 2017 to assess the impacts from the flood events. 

The duration of the consultancy is 708 days, including designs and supervision of the construction works. The consultancy will commence within ten days of the contract signing. This is the first consultancy to commence under the CDB Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Loan. It is expected that the new NEOC will be completed by early 2020 or sooner.

The Government of the Virgin Islands remains committed the rebuilding the BVI stronger, smarter, greener, better and more resilient to hazard impacts.


Photo 1:2- Signing of contract between Government of the Virgin Islands and Virella Crespo & Associates. (Photo credit: Ronnielle Frazer /GIS)

Photo 2:2- Mr. Javier Rivera and Dr. Juan C. Virella Crespo, Virella Crespo & Associates; Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE; Director of Disaster Management, Ms. Sharleen DaBreo, MBE; Financial Secretary, Mr. Glenroy Forbes and Director of Projects, Dr. Drexel Glasgow.  (Photo credit: Ronnielle Frazer /GIS)


Sheriece T. Smith

Information Officer II 
Dept. of Information & Public Relations 
Telephone: 468- 2740