- Written by The BVI Beacon
- Published: 18 September 2017
PRESS RELEASE — Good day ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of the Virgin Islands. It was my hope that today government would have a chance to provide a comprehensive report on our actions to support relief efforts since the passage of Hurricane Irma on September 6.
However, a more pressing matter has emerged and that is of the recently formed hurricane, Maria. I wanted to take the opportunity of our planned press conference to implore each resident of the Virgin Islands to finalise any preparedness measures for the passage of Hurricane Maria, which is expected to pass close to the Virgin Islands Tuesday evening into Wednesday.
As of the 8 a.m. update this morning, the Virgin Islands is under Hurricane Watch and we will feel some effects from the passage of Hurricane Maria. While Hurricane Maria may not be as strong as Hurricane Irma, our present reality is also very different. Effects such as potential flooding and high winds that can turn debris into dangerous projectiles can have a greater and more treacherous impact for us.
Many residents are still displaced, homes are not fully secured and our natural protections have had severe damage due to the passage of Hurricane Irma. Our islands are extremely vulnerable right now and I urge everyone to finalise their plans and be indoors for tonight’s curfew and remain there until an all clear is given by the National Emergency Operations Centre. You can stay updated on the passage of the hurricane via the Department of Disaster Management’s Facebook page or by listening to the radio.
For the remainder of today, I urge communities to organise and assist the Department of Waste Management in cleaning up as much of the debris as possible. Many homes are exposed and flying debris can cause greater damage to property and individuals. I also ask our communities to look out for neighbours that might be elderly and need assistance, or those whose homes may have been severely damaged. If you are uncertain that you will be safe in your home, I strongly encourage you to get to a shelter where you and your family will be secure.
In the Territory, we still have with us additional enforcement support to ensure the safety of all residents. My government stands united with the Governor and Commissioner of Police in supporting the maintenance of a law abiding and orderly society. We will not tolerate any adverse behvaiour to our usual peaceful way of life in the Virgin Islands, particularly in a time such as this.
I would like to extend gratitude to the many individuals, organisations, agencies and governments that have come forward in support of the Virgin Islands during this very challenging time. In what will prove to be one of the most defining moments of our history, it is comforting to know that we are not alone. It is also comforting to know that the people of the Virgin Islands remain vigilant and resilient.
I also express my thanks and appreciation to the staff and volunteers of the National Emergency Operating Centre for their hard work. They themselves have experienced losses, yet they are here daily coordinating recovery efforts. I must also thank the many other public servants from the Department of Waste Management, Public Works, Water and Sewerage, BVI Electricity Cooperation and a host of other government agencies and volunteers who are working around the clock. Again, on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands, I thank you, and must ask that you continue as we all work to get our islands back to normalcy. Particularly for our Sister Islands of Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke, I thank the many private businesses and local organisers that are spearheading relief efforts on those islands. Your work has made the world of difference to residents on those islands.
Finally, Virgin Islanders and residents, I know that these past few weeks have been extremely stressful. The devastation caused by Irma has left many residents wondering how they will move forward and rebuild their lives. My promise to you, is that my government will be right there with you as we all pick up the pieces, one day at a time. Right now, we do need you to act swiftly, adhere to information provided by our National Emergency Operations Centre and we all will get through this together.
Following the passage of Hurricane Maria, my government will be providing the Territory with a fill update on our response and recovery efforts. In the meantime, I again urge you to stay vigilant, prepare for the passage of Hurricane Maria and let us band together as a community and remain, BVI Strong.
— Virgin Islands Premier Dr. Orlando Smith