- Written by FREEMAN ROGERS
- Published: 23 September 2017
Power should be restored to the territory’s most heavily populated areas within three to four months, and public water should be restored to most residents within 30 to 45 days, Communications and Works Minister Mark Vanterpool said during a press conference on Friday morning.
In recent years, Mr. Vanterpool explained, most power lines in Road Town were buried, and so “a couple days after Irma we were able to get central services up and running around the city.”
Peebles Hospital and commercial centres including banks are among the buildings that already have current, he said.
More should be added to the list soon, starting along the James Walter Francis Highway to the major supermarkets, where BVI Electricity Corporation workers have been installing new poles in recent days.
“Once we inspect the buildings and they are able to receive power, there is power coming from the Pockwood Pond station to these areas,” the minister said.
To expedite the process, the BVIEC has been importing poles and lines from overseas. Additional manpower from abroad is expected too, although some foreign workers slated to help are now unable to do so because their own countries, including Dominica, were devastated by Hurricane Maria.
Water in 45 days
Mr. Vanterpool also said Friday that public water should be available to “most residents” within 30 to 45 days.
The Paraquita Bay and Bar Bay desalination plants already have been producing water, he said.
Some of the Paraquita Bay water is being pumped to the Sabbath Hill reservoir and other areas, and yesterday water was released for about two hours to help officials locate leaks, according to the minister.
Officials are hoping soon to provide public water during limited periods to areas including Road Town, East End and Sea Cows Bay, the minister said.
And to get water to the western end of Tortola, officials are assessing the Cappoons Bay plant and sourcing a 200,000-gallon-per-day plant for Sea Cows Bay.
VG and JVD
Virgin Gorda’s desalination capabilities were hit hard by Irma, but government is arranging to send a ship to Curacao to collect a temporary plant that can process 200,000 gallons per day, according to the minister.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom military is helping to fly in a 40,000-gallon-per-day plant for Jost Van Dyke, he said.
Roads and cleanup
Mr. Vanterpool added that the territory’s roads were largely spared during Hurricane Irma. Though there was some damage, including large pot holes, in some areas, the roads’ structural integrity held up “reasonably well,” he explained.
He added that efforts are under way to improve drainage over the long term in order to minimise future flooding.
Meanwhile, cleanup efforts are under way across the territory, though they have been hindered by heavy traffic.
Mr. Vanterpool urged residents to assist by cleaning their own neighbourhoods and piling their trash by the roadside so that government workers can haul it away.
“We are trying our best to get it done,” he said, adding, “If you wait on government, it won’t happen.”
He urged all residents to pitch in, and stressed that this might require flexibility.
“If you were a worker in a hotel, you might have to learn some skills in the construction side,” he said.