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The Government of the Virgin Islands has initiated a plan to prepare for what may be another active season, according to the preliminary predictions released in December 2017.
The commencement of the 2018 Hurricane Season is just about three and a half months away and residents are being asked to utilise this off-season to get their homes and businesses repaired and ready.
Director, Department of Disaster Management (DDM), Sharleen DaBreo, while speaking about the ongoing preparations being made said a detailed inspection of the emergency shelters that were officially designated in 2017 has commenced and other facilities used during the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria are being looked at.
Ms. DaBreo said, “The Public Works Department and the Environmental Health Division are fully engaged in this process. We are aiming to have a new list of emergency shelters available for release prior to the 1st June, 2018.”
Ms. DaBreo further explained that repairs have already started on critical facilities such as the elderly homes on Tortola and Virgin Gorda, as well as clinics, with others expected to commence shortly. The department has also commenced an early preparedness campaign under the theme “Get Ready Stay Ready” with tips online and through local radio stations.
The Director added thatCabinet has requested a Readiness Report to address the critical response agency needs. This report, she said will outline what is needed to get the emergency repairs completed and to provide for the level of protection in the event of the formation of another major hurricane in the Atlantic.
“Cabinet is desirous of ensuring that we make preparations to initiate an effective response, should we be impacted again this year. The Readiness Report is expected to be laid before Cabinet on 21st February 2018,”she said.
Preparatory work is also expanding into other areas with road works moving ahead and plans to commence the ghut clearing and water restoration services inprogression.
The DDM is appealing to residents to reflect on the situations that occurred during and after the impacts from the three major events in 2017 – the August Flood, Hurricanes Irma and Maria and use the opportunity to commence their preparations early.
Chief Planner, Greg Adams said, “There is evidence that repairs to roofs are now moving ahead at a faster pace. Homeowners and businesses are encouraged to use the advice provided by the Town and Country Planning Department and the Building Authority.”
Mr. Adams further explained that there is an opportunity now for those roofs that remained intact to be inspected and reinforced. He said, “We encourage a thorough check of those roofs that were not damaged or destroyed. The intensity of the winds was well beyond what many structures are designed to withstand and so those buildings that remained in place should be closely examined and reinforced. Those being repaired should ensure that proper methods are used for connecting the various building components.”
Mr. Adams is also encouraging persons to check on the security of windows with shutters. “It is important when purchasing hurricane shutters that you examine the pros and cons of each and ensure that they are suitable for the window size and the location of your structures. Remember now is the time to begin clearing around your property,” he says.
Residents and business owners are further reminded to compile a thorough inventory of the contents of their structures and store images and lists in the cloud (such as on Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive) and on external drives that can be quickly retrieved when needed. Persons are also encouraged to use this time to scan and store important hard copy documents and photographs.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30.